Riding the Tour de Rock for the second time

Black Press media rider Arnold Lim on the differences between riding the Tour de Rock in 2013, compared to his experience in 2017.

What’s the difference between this year, and the last time you rode Tour de Rock?

Having ridden the Canadian Cancer Society fundraiser in 2013, it’ss been common and understandable question. Five days into the 1,000km journey across the length of Vancouver Island, I think I may finally understand.

The difference is that four years ago, at least four of the tour’s Junior Team members, or children battling cancer and their siblings, were still alive. Baby Madrona Fuentes, Molly Campbell, Lucas Wetklo, and René Soto-Taylor are now gone, not to mention the many more who passed away after I rode, who are no longer with us.

The difference is, my junior rider from 2013, is older now, thriving, growing and living the life he deserves, but my junior rider this year, Charlie Smith, who is almost the same age, lost his sister Emma Smith to cancer a year ago.

The difference is when I saw 10-year-old Hope Kopeck again yesterday, four years after I first met the bubbly and hairless girl with a tumour wrapped around her spine and the aorta in her heart, she wasn’t undertaking chemotherapy. But while the tumour doesn’t appear to be growing, she gets an MRI every six months to make sure, and now awaiting science to catch up so they can remove it from her chest. Intertwined with nerves and blood vessels in her tiny body, surgery is too complicated with the current technology to safely attempt.

The difference is Hope now has a tangible goal in her life, a dream the 10-year-old Cumberland resident shared with me that she didn’t share with me four years ago.

She wants to grow up to be a Tour de Rock rider and one day have a junior rider of her own she can motivate, encourage and shave her head for.

The tiny girl whose hair fluttered in the confines of a police vehicle while joining the Tour de Rock through the Comox Valley, stuffing her hands full of cookies while generously doling out high fives wanted to offer her experience to other children not much different from herself.

The truth is, there still isn’t enough of a difference yet to beat a dangerous killer and that is the only difference that matters.

Arnold Lim is the Black Press media rider for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer, Tour de Rock.

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