By the time Ian MacDonell starts a 200-plus km bike ride this June he’ll be in his 20th cycle of chemotherapy treatments.
The 68-year-old Deep Bay resident has Multiple Myeloma, one of three blood cancers.
But the disease won’t stop him from joining his daughter and a team of riders on The Ride to Conquer Cancer, travelling by bike from Vancouver to Seattle June 14 and 15.
MacDonell is happy to be giving back, he said, since the health care system has really come through for him. He’s also hoping that by taking part in the bike ride he’ll help researchers continue to create useful drugs to lengthen people’s life spans and someday find a cure for the disease.
MacDonell is currently in his 18th cycle of chemotherapy treatments which he takes in pill form. He had a stem cell transplant about six months after his diagnoses in May 2011 but the results weren’t what he was hoping for. His chemotherapy pills will eventually stop working, he said, but thanks to research a new drug called Pomalist recently hit the markets and that means that when MacDonell needs it, it will be available.
“This new drug that has come out is fantastic, this is the first time in years there has been a new drug to use after the standard procedures,” he said.
MacDonell was never a devoted cyclist but has always been active. He started riding regularly this January after he decided to take on this challenge. He said the riding is peaceful and relaxing and is a chance to see the world from a different angle.
“I see things I never saw before,” he said. “It’s a getaway without really going anywhere.”
MacDonell has teamed up with Susan Voerman at PowerHouse Fitness Club in Bowser to hold a fundraiser this Saturday to help him and his daughter Jen, and her partner Jeff, reach their fundraising goals for the ride.
The Fundraiser will take place outside PowerHouse Fitness in Magnolia Court on Saturday, April 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. MacDonell, Jen and Jeff will be spinning on stationary bikes hoping to garner donations for the cause. MacDonell is hoping to raise $5,000 and he is already at $4,350. There will be balloons and giveaways and a table with information on myeloma, with a support group representative on-hand to answer questions.
MacDonell was diagnosed early and considers himself lucky because unlike many people it hasn’t spread to his bones. He is now in partial remission, he said. He credits a support group with helping him overcome the initial shock of his diagnoses, called the North Island Multiple Myeloma Support, and he now co-facilitates that group.
“You’re like a deer in headlights [when first diagnosed], you don’t know where to turn or what to do,” he said. “And then you go to that group and all those questions get answered. They’ve all been through it and you see people with the disease and they are living normal lives.”
Vancouver Island had the highest number of diagnoses of Multiple Myeloma in 2013, MacDonell said, besides the Fraser Valley. Early diagnoses is critical, which is why the support group has created a postcard with information on the disease and the pathway to diagnoses, he said. The group will distribute the handouts to as many doctors, chiropractors and physiotherapists as they can.
To donate to MacDonell’s campaign in the Ride to Conquer Cancer stop by the event Saturday or visit www.conquercancer.ca and search his name or his team’s name Trail Bicycles.