Experiencing what his family went through during his sister’s battle with cancer had a profound effect that left a lasting impression on Shawn Creamer.
“I was 13 at the time and it had quite an impact,” explained Creamer, who lived with his aunt for a few months while his parents stayed in Vancouver with his sister, Tracey, when she was undergoing treatment for leukemia. “We’re a very close family. It was a difficult time.
“That’s what really motivated me to help raise money to fight cancer,” said the Colwood resident preparing to participate in his 11th Ride to Conquer Cancer on Aug. 24-25. Riders will complete about 220 kilometres cycling from Vancouver to Hope. Creamer, a civilian contracts co-ordinator at CFB Esquimalt, is one of 14 people who have ridden in the event every year since its inception. “People before me who got involved in fundraisers like this are the reason my sister’s still alive.
Although it had been about 20 years since he had been on a bike, Creamer came across a BC Cancer Foundation pamphlet on the Ride to Conquer Cancer shortly after he purchased a new bike. He rode as an individual the first time he took part in the event, but decided to join Team Finn the following year, named in honour of a three-year-old boy who died from cancer. Finns’ legacy of “Run Jump Bounce Dance Sing Love Smile and Ride” has been a continuous source of inspiration for riders since he died in 2008.
“I heard Finn’s dad speak and I was really moved,” Creamer said. “Finn didn’t lose his battle. He lived with cancer and made the most of every moment. The speech really grabbed me and I joined Team Finn the next year.”
Creamer trains twice a week in preparation for the ride, mostly working on distance. “It’s great because it’s set up for all levels of skill,” he noted. They have pit stops every 20 or 30 kilometres and great medical and equipment support. Lots of people help out to make it work.”
Creamer is one of 40 of the 23,000 riders who have taken part in every Ride to Conquer Cancer. Team Finn, which averages between 20 and 100 riders a year, has raised $2,753,683. Creamer’s fundraising total so far is more than $30,000. “Getting the word out about the ride and raising awareness is critical. Everyone knows about the Tour de Rock, which is a great initiative, but the Ride to Conquer Cancer tends to fly under the radar,” he said. The money raised by Ride to Conquer cancer totals almost $96 million to date and helps the BC Cancer Foundation purchase equipment such as PET and CT scanners and other equipment and fund treatments that play a critical role in cancer care.
The fact his sister has been in remission for 32 years speaks volumes about the progress made, but he has also lost an aunt, uncle and two grandparents to cancer.
“They told my sister she may never be able to have kids and she has three,” he added. “We’re changing the story with every ride.”
Visit teamfinn.com for more information.