It was March of 2012 when longtime South Surrey resident Ian Herron was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Twenty-five days later, he had surgery.
It was a success, but treatment continued – seven weeks of radiation followed by hormonal therapy. The cancer didn’t return, and in 2014 signed up for his first Ride to Conquer Cancer.
“Once I recovered from the surgery, I felt I wanted to give back to the BC Cancer Foundation. They had basically saved my life. I decided I wanted to get involved. I felt this ride was doable,” said Herron, a retired Air Canada mechanic who turns 70 this month.
The Ride to Conquer Cancer is a two-day 250-km fundraising ride between Cloverdale and Seattle. This year’s ride – the eighth annual, which took place Aug. 27-28 – raised $7.1 million for cancer research and patient care at the BC Cancer Agency.
There were 1,687 participants, and Herron was one of them. Mounted to his bike was a yellow flag to indicate he’s a survivor.
It was his second year participating in the ride, and his third year as a part of it, having served as a volunteer last year.
This year Herron, who is still cancer-free today, cycled as part of a team: the Silver Bullets. Together, the 35-member group raised $227,000. Herron himself raised $3,060 for the cause.
Raising money – a minimum of $2,500 is required of each participant – went much better than he first thought.
“The first year I was apprehensive. I sent an email to a bunch of friends, and the funds started rolling in, and that’s been the case ever since. Once people realize that you’re serious with this, they’re more than happy to donate, especially when they know someone who has been there, and is a survivor.”
Cancer runs in Herron’s family too. Three of his father’s four sisters had it, along with one of his dad’s three brothers.
According to the BC Cancer Foundation, more than 26,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer this year in B.C. alone.
Participating in the ride, Herron said, leaves him with a warm feeling of being able to give back and help future generations. A cancer diagnosis used to be a “one-way road,” he remembered. Now, in the case of prostate cancer that’s detected early, the survival rate is over 90 per cent.
“I shudder to think what situation I’d be in now if I had not been detected. That’s what does scare me. Fortunately my (doctor) picked up on it and sent me to a specialist and tests, and that was the outcome.”
Herron, who has run four Boston Marathons, said he’s already registered for next year’s Ride to Conquer Cancer.
“It’s hard work. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to work that hard two days in a row. But the afterglow is unmeasurable.”
In eight years, the ride has raised over $77 million for the BC Cancer Foundation. Visit conquercancer.ca to participate.