Ucluelet’s Donna Brooks is gearing up for her second annual Tour de Cure ride and this time she’ll be cycling with a team, aptly dubbed The Dandelions.
“As a former cancer nurse, Donna has been around cancer all her life. During her time as a nurse, the dandelion became a symbol of resilience and strength. The dandelion is not always wanted, but it’s tenacious. It has strong roots and is good at hanging in there. Those are the qualities that this cycling team represents,” reads a statement from the BC Cancer Foundation announcing Brooks’ participation in the ride.
Brooks rode in last year’s Tour de Cure in honour of her sister, who had died of cancer five months prior.
“Joined by her daughter and two of her sister’s closest friends, Donna and the Dandelions will ride in Tour de Cure this August to raise funds to support cancer research and enhancements to care. They’ve already surpassed their $10,000 fundraising goal,” the announcement states.
The Tour de Cure is the BC Cancer Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser and this year’s event is expecting to see about 2,000 riders cycling from Cloverdale to Hope from August 26-27, pedalling 100 kilometres each day.
“The Tour de Cure community is made up of an exceptional group of participants from every corner of the province, with some even coming from beyond B.C. The ride shows how much can be accomplished when British Columbians join together for a common cause – in this case, advancing cancer research and improving outcomes,” said BC Cancer Foundation Executive Director William Litchfield. “We’re tremendously grateful for riders like Donna who are making the journey to the Fraser Valley, and I look forward to riding alongside her later this month.”
Brooks told the Westerly News that last year’s Tour de Cure was “an incredible experience.”
“Joining a large group of people in the ride and all coming together as a community and feeling the support of a lot of people there who have shared similar experiences with cancer either personally or through family members,” she said. “Feeling the support and also the positivity that we were working together to do something to help fundraise for new treatments and, hopefully, helping other people and saving them from having to go through it.”
Funds raised by the Tour de Cure go towards research and innovation in cancer treatments.
“What it’s all about is getting support from communities to fund new treatments and support for cancer patients along their cancer journey,” Brooks said.
Brooks raised $4,000 individually last year and is thrilled to have already matched that amount this year with hopes to see more support pouring in by the time she rides into Hope.
“I think it’s such a perfect name for a ride like this to end up because that’s what this journey is all about; having hope for the future that we’re going to be coming up with even better treatments than what we have now,” she said.
“We have come a long way. In the time I worked in the cancer clinic, I saw huge changes in treatments and screening but we’re not there yet. We haven’t come up with all the answers, so we’ve got to keep going with fundraising.”
She added the ride creates valuable connections between people with similar and shared experiences.
“It’s amazing because you don’t have to explain yourself or what you’ve been through. These people have been through similar experiences either personally or with family members and just know the sadness of what you go through on the journey of illness…You’re laughing. You’re crying. You’re all just sharing the same experience,” she said. “It’s loss, but there’s good points too, like keeping up that hope. I think that’s something that’s so important, we’re all feeling that hope.”
She added that being part of the ride and the community of riders she’s connected to has helped her find meaning in her own grief.
“Part of it is for me personally and what I get out of it. Part of grief is feeling helpless and so out of control in what has happened to you in your life,” she said. “It helped me a lot to deal with my grief and get me out of my pyjamas in the morning somedays and motivated me to look after my own physical and mental health and rejoin the world and get over the sadness…It’s a way that I can give back and hopefully make a difference in people’s lives.”
Anyone looking to support Brooks can find her fundraising page by searching Donna Brooks or her team The Dandelions at tourdecure.ca.
Brooks said she’s been overwhelmingly heartened by the support she’s received from the West Coast.
“It’s been just heartwarming and nice to feel welcomed to the community. People are very giving. They’re kind and generous…It’s definitely a really good and goodhearted community,” she said. “It means so much. It’s heartwarming and makes me want to stay and be part of this wonderful community and give back. I really want to say thank you to the people out here for how much they’ve supported me.”
Don’t miss out on reading the latest local, provincial and national news. Join our community and receive daily news alerts & breaking news, right to your inbox. www.westerlynews.ca/newsletters.
READ MORE: Ucluelet cyclist gearing up for Tour de Cure