Craig's Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society's Maritime Bike Tour
July 28th, 2011

The kilometres will pass quickly for members of the Craig's Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society's Maritime Bike Tour - each push delivered in memory of fallen loved ones and supporting the need for cancer research.


Fredericton resident Paul Lavoie ( long time member of Capital City Roadrunners ) will participate in the Craig's Cause Pancreatic Society's Maritime Bike Tour this week in honour of his sister Denise, who died from the disease in 2009.

More than 20 cyclists will visit Maritime hospitals between Cape Breton and Fredericton this week, taking breaks from the road to host information sessions and support groups for pancreatic cancer patients and their families.

The organizers of the bike tour hope to raise at least $45,000 for research projects at the QEII Sciences Centre in Halifax, a fund for patients in need of financial support during treatments at that facility and to support awareness programs around one of the deadliest forms of cancer in Canada.

They're slated to arrive at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital on Thursday at 4 p.m.

The session will be held in the auxiliary theatre, located in a section of the facility near the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation.

They'll be distributing informational DVDs and booklets about pancreatic cancer and answering questions about what to do if you've been diagnosed, how families can support the patient through the treatment process and what people can do to cope with their grief if a loved one passes.

Fredericton resident Paul Lavoie signed up for the cycling tour in memory of his sister Denise Bongard, who lost her battle to pancreatic cancer in 2009 at the age of 58.

"That's very young and it came upon her, as it does, as a surprise. We had very little time with her once they diagnosed her because of the type of disease it is," she said.

He said more research needs to be completed on the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

"With a lot of the major cancers, now, they've raised a lot of money, they've done a lot of research and they've been quite successful in treating the big four (types of cancer)," he said.

"Now I think it's time to start looking at the big killers."

Lavoie said it's nice to be involved with a project that will pay tribute to his sister and support an effort to prevent others from experiencing the pain and suffering his family went through.

"Every difficult pedal I'll be thinking about Denise as I do it," he said.

A donation from Maple Leaf Foods - a company founded by the late New Brunswick business leader and pancreatic cancer patient Wallace McCain - will allow the group to put 100 per cent of the money raised into research and support programs.

Stefanie Condon-Oldreive, a Halifax native and the founder of the Craig's Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society, said she began the advocacy group in honour of her late father.

She said she wanted to give people access to resources and connect people throughout the Maritimes affected by pancreatic cancer.

"It's created long, life relationships. People have stayed in touch and we get together. Everyone that's on the tour has a common cause that we believe in," she said.

"It's not that we're all athletic, because we're not all like that. It's that we care about this."

Condon-Oldreive said the tour also helps create important bonds between the volunteers.

"To hear all the stories from patients and caregivers is inspiring," she said.

"We always have a group hug in the morning where we stand in a circle and we decide to ride in honour of somebody that day. We'll read their personal story. That kind of keeps us focused on why we're doing this."  

( Taken from the Daily Gleaner )