Posts Tagged ‘Cancer’

Onthe Road Again – 2013

Posted: April 12, 2013 in Cycling, Personal
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Alex being Interviewed on the Ride

My brother Alex being Interviewed during the Ride to Conquer Cancer 2012.

Freezing rain and ice pellets aside, it must be spring, because there were earthworms all over the bike lanes this week. Thank God for fenders.

Yes, I have finally gotten started on my 2013 cycling season. It’s pretty damp in the morning which makes it seem a lot colder than it actually is, but even so, it feels good to be on the road again. There’s just something about riding a bike that makes me feel so much younger than I feel most mornings. I turn 60 next year and a lot of mornings I feel every bit of my 59 years and then some. But this past week, riding to Guelph Little Theatre last Saturday, then to work a couple of mornings, I have felt better than I have in a long time.

Winter’s over (weather be-damned), spring is here; I’m on my bike again. Life is good.

Of course that also means that the Ride to Conquer Cancer, benefiting the Campbell Family Research Centre at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, is less than two months away (it’s happening June 8th & 9th). The next few weeks will be very busy as Team Kortright ramps up its fundraising efforts. Stay tuned for more info on these efforts in the days to come.

This week however, I am very pleased to announce that we have two new team members this year; Dr. Phil McAlister and Les Ferrier.

Many of you in the Guelph area will be familiar with Dr. Phil from his Living Healthy show (available o n YouTube) and his work at Tranquil Therapeutic Solutions on Scottsdale Drive. He’s been a cyclist both on and off road for some time and it’s great to have him on board.

Les Ferrier has been a supporter of Team Kortright all along the way and has decided to ride with us in 2013. Les is now officially the oldest member of the team and brings years of cycling experience with him (he and his wife Barb spent their honeymoon cycling) and so we are very glad to

have him on the team as well. Welcome to both Les and Phil.

On the downside however, this year even more of my friends are battling with this terrible disease.

Prominent in my mind and heart when I think on what we are trying to do with the Ride to Conquer Cancer is my friend Cindi. She is just finishing up her chemo-therapy regimen and while the treatments are much milder than they were back when my brother went through it, it’s still no walk in the park. In fact, a walk in the park takes a lot out of Cindi most days (when it happens at all), but thanks to the support of her family and friends, and especially her husband Pete, the journey to healing continues. You can read her story over at their blog “Following Jesus is Hard.”

It’s because of people like Cindi, my brother, and so many others that have both won and lost their struggle with cancer that I continue to participate in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. And it’s because of the far too many people you know who have and are struggling with it that I ask you to help by making a donation and sponsoring me again this year. As in past years my goal for 2013 is to raise $2500. This is the amount each rider pl

edges to raise before they enter the Ride. With nearly 5000 riders again this year I’m sure we’ll set a new record once again.

Or maybe you haven’t sponsored me before. In that case I invite you to do so for the first time. Your donation will go to continue the research and patient support at the Princess Margaret. Last year the nearly 5000 riders rose over $16 million, the largest cycling fundraiser in Canadian history. It was a remarkable experience.

So please; follow the link to my personal Ride page and make a donation. You can donate online or print out a donation form to send in with your cheque. If you get there and it happens that my $2500 goal has been reached then I would ask you to support me by sponsoring one of the other members of Team Kortright.

Thank You and may God bless.



You can sponsor me with a donation at the following link or by clicking the banner in the left margin.

Today is “Gear Up Day !” 

What is Gear Up Day? It’s the official launch of the 2013 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer campaign. Next spring, on June 8-9, 2013 I will be riding in support of the Princess Margaret Hospital cancer research centre for the 6th time!  It will be my 3rd ride since my own battle with cancer. Once again I am glad to be riding as the captain of Team Kortright.

What I’m not so glad about is that this year, as in every year previously, the number of people the team is riding for has increased. It can be disheartening to see more and more of our friends and family are being afflicted with this disease. But like them, we ride on, because giving up isn’t an option. They continue living on relying on friends, family and faith to get them through. The most recent of these is my friend Cindi Olsen whose victory over cancer is being chronicled by her husband Pete over at their blog – Following Jesus is Hard.

And so, once again I appeal to all of you to support Team Kortright and I as we continue to do our part in the fight against this disease. You can donate online by clicking on the banner on the left side of your screen and checking out my Ride Page.

While there you can also join Team Kortright by clicking on the “Join Dennis’ Team” button. Sign up and be a part of what is always an amazing adventure. If you want a look at what the ride is like check out the previous posts by clicking on RtCC in the tag cloud.

I’d like to thank you all in advance for your support as we continue to seek the goal of conquering cancer in our lifetime!

Shalom….  Dennis

After the Ride

Posted: June 19, 2012 in Cycling, Personal
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Well, it’s been over a week and I am only just now getting around to posting about how the Ride to Conquer Cancer went this year. Gives you an idea how hectic my week has been.

That said, the Ride went just great! We all had a good time; endured some rain, met a few challenges, found new friends, sweltered in the heat, ate food, drank beer, rode a lot of miles.  Team Kortright did very well raising $19,000 out of the $18.1 million raised by the collective 4,852 riders. It was all I expected it to be and then some. There was one thing however that I did not expect.

At lunch the first day a guy with a video camera comes up to my brother Alex and I and asks us a few questions about why we were doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer. It’s not unheard of; it happened to me back in 2008, the first year of the Ride. They talk to a lot of people and then spend several weeks going through the footage and putting together the promo videos for the next years Ride. There is a ton of footage that is taken but never used, so it wasn’t that big a deal. What happened the next day however, was something different.

At lunch on Day 2 the same guy spots us from across the lawn and calls out to us. He comes over and I remind him that he already spoke to us the day before. He says that’s why he’s looking for us again. He liked the footage so much and said we had such good presence that he wanted us to record a couple of scripted sound bites for use in the promos. Right now I can’t remember exactly what we said, but he spend about 10-12 minutes taping us delivering a couple of catch phrases and an invitation or two.

Alex being Interviewed on the Ride

My brother Alex being Interviewed by video promo guy during the Ride to Conquer Cancer 2012.

Alex was thrilled, grinning from ear to ear. And the video guys seemed to find him the more appealing of the two of us, of which I’m glad. I had my moment in the sun back in 2009 when I found myself part of the promo videos. I got calls from friends right across the country saying they had seen me in one or another of the ads. This year it is Alex’s turn and I couldn’t be happier. He’s an amazing guy who has always been an inspiration to his big brother. Now the whole country will get a chance to be inspired by him as well.

Once again I want to thank each and every one of you that supported Team Kortright and myself this year. You are the best of the best and we will always be grateful.

Tomorrow… We Ride!

Posted: June 8, 2012 in Cycling, Personal
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Team Kortright Photo

(Rear – Left-right) Denise Zimmer, Tim Watson, Brian Watson, Helena Watson, Alex Gray, (Front) Dennis Gray, Daniel Bartozzi

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but tomorrow Team Kortright and I hit the road in the 5th Ride to Conquer Cancer. Last year the team raised just shy of $18000. This year we managed to top that slightly with the total being, as of this writing, $18,854.24.

Yep, 24 cents. Not sure exactly how three of us ended up with 8 cents each (likely something to do with door receipts from the Fireworks party) but there it is. It’s wonderful that we managed to top last year’s total. I’m very proud of all the members of the team, and exceedingly grateful to everyone who supported us.


There’s a couple of other things that are a little different this year. Up till now our connection to Kortright Church in Guelph has pretty much been in name only; but this year we have been granted small group status at Kortright making the connection official. It feels good because, despite what some might contend, names are important when it comes to a sense of belonging. The vast majority of Team Kortright (6 out of 7) attend KPC and we have often felt like we were in some kind of limbo; a part of the community but only at the fringes, like the weird aunt nobody really talks about. With official status as a small group we can now boldly declare our value to the community and one member of the team, Helena Watson, does that very well in this month’s issue of the Kortright Kronicles. You can read the article HERE.

The other change this time around is a little more personal. In 2008 I participated in the first Ride to Conquer Cancer. Though I had done other fund-raising efforts this one really hit home. Twenty four years earlier my brother Alex had his right arm & shoulder amputated when it was discovered he had the same cancer that took Terry Fox. Not long after that colon cancer took my father from us. I have cycled all my life and when the Ride came along I knew it was the perfect way for me to be a part of the fight. Alex drove me down to the CNE grounds that first cold Saturday morning, but he was unable to join me for a number of reasons.

But this year he and I will be riding together and I couldn’t be happier. His health has improved and he’s riding a great custom trike that was once the property of Dr. Robert Buckman. Dr. Buckman was a very popular oncologist at The Princess Margaret Hospital who had a reputation for making his patients feel at ease with a remarkable sense of humour. His work in educating the public on health matters and cancer in particular is legendary. If you get the chance check out the work he did with John Cleese.

My Brother Alex riding the trike he acquired from Dr. Robert Buckman.

The fact that my brother is riding in memory of Robert Buckman just adds to the positive feelings I have about this year’s Ride to Conquer Cancer. It’s shaping up to be the best ever. Once again thanks to everyone who has supported us, both financially and spiritually with prayers and encouragement.

See you in Niagara Falls on Sunday!

On the Road Again

Posted: March 8, 2012 in Cycling, Personal
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On The Road AgainMe in Last Years Ride

Me in last year's R2CC.

Well, tonight I picked up my bicycle from Speed River Bicycle, where it was in having it’s yearly overhaul, and so today marks the start of my 2012 cycling season. I take it there because; a) that’s where I bought it 5 years ago, and b) they do very good work at a fairly reasonable price.

I usually start riding on the weekend of the change to Daylight Saving Time (which is this weekend by the way) and ride at least until DST ends in the fall, which this year will be November 4th. Sometimes the weather will shorten the season some, but I am hoping this year it will be a long one.

As I rode home after leaving downtown it took mere moments for the activity to have it’s usual affect on my system. With each passing moment I felt better and better as the cycling motion and nearly effortless motion turned back the clock. When I ride I feel 16 instead of nearly 60. Riding a bicycle just makes me feel younger. If it had been any warmer out I might have ridden further taking a more circuitous route home, but the 6 km I did ride was typical for a first time out.

This is the 5th year for the Ride and in celebration of such there are a few extras going on that haven’t happened in previous years. One I’m really looking forward to is that everyone who has participated all five years will receive a special edition Golden Bike Helmet. It won’t be real gold of course but even so, it will be kinda cool. Last year there were only a little over 400 of us who had been in all 4 rides out of 4610 people. So if I get all my funding and make it into the Ride this year I will be in a fairly select group of riders.

Which of course means I’m going to ask you once again to click on the banner to the left and donate to my effort in The Ride this year. If you are planning to help me with this but haven’t yet, then I would ask you to do so this month. You see there is another promotion tied to this years fundraising. During the month of March reaching certain Fundraising goals will earn you a ballot in a draw for a $1000 Voucher towards a new Norco Bike. If I raise $500 this month I get 1 ballot, $750 gets me 2, and $1000 raised between now and March 31 will get 3 ballots. No idea what the odds are, but hey! a new bike would be great and a shot is a shot right? and three shots would be even more so. Details on the promotion are HERE.

So as I said, if you are intending to donate please do so this month and not only help in the fight against cancer, but help me get three shots at a brand new bike as well. Click the banner on the left or HERE to donate.

Till next time…  Shalom.

Cancer Free!

Posted: February 8, 2012 in Personal
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One year ago this week I underwent the last of 35 radiation treatments following surgery to remove a cancerous tumour from my throat. It was the first time since being diagnosed that I heard the words, “Cancer Free!” It took another three weeks for the swelling to go down enough that an MRI would confirm my oncologist assessment. But I will always think of this that last treatment as the day the ordeal ended.

One year later and the words still apply; Cancer Free! It feels good. I feel good, and I want others to feel the same sensation when they hear the same words – Cancer Free!  That’s why, once again, I am writing dear readers, to ask you all to support me in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. Help me to bless others the way I have been blessed.

Once again as well, I will be co-captain of a great group of people called Team Kortright. This year 11 people have signed onto Team Kortright and I am thrilled to tell you that one of those people is my brother Alex.

This is the fifth year for the Ride and many of you will remember that Alex was one of the main motivations behind my attending the first Ride to Conquer Cancer back in 2008. Alex lost an arm to cancer his last year of high school and I have always been grateful that, unlike my father, he is still here with us. He, and myself, are cancer survivors because down through the years people at places like The Campbell Family Institute at The Princess Margaret have been working hard to defeat this devastating disease in our lifetime.

If you have already donated to the 2012 campaign then I thank you, with all my heart!

If not then Please click on the link at left and help make the words Cancer Free a reality for many more people; maybe someone you know!

Thank You!

Road Tolls and the GTA

Toronto has been talking road tolls for some time now (link).

So, I’m listening to talk radio as usual, and once more the subject of road tolls going in and out of Toronto is on the agenda. Someone in Toronto is taking umbrage once again at the idea that people from outside the GTA are daring to use the roads that Toronto has paid for.

As my pal Chris and I talked about Toronto’s passive/aggressive, superiority/inferiority complex, and the impact of such a decision, it occurred to me that had such road tolls been in place in other cities over the past year it would have had an immediate impact on my own life.

As those who follow this blog know, last year I was diagnosed with cancer and since there are no cancer clinics here in Guelph I had to travel to other places to receive treatment; places like Hamilton’s Juravinski Cancer Centre on the mountain, and St. Joseph’s Hospital downtown. All told, over the last 18 months, I have made 43 trips to Hamilton for diagnosis, evaluation, surgery, radiation treatments and follow-up, with another in fact scheduled for tomorrow.

The average toll on the 407 is in the $8-$10 range, so if we use that as a base, each way, then I would have been looking at between $680 and $860 dollars an additional cost to receive my treatments had there been such tolls in place at the time. Not a great deal I’ll admit, but when you add in parking, fuel, insurance (one volunteer driver told me his insurance company increased his rates when they found out what he was doing) it adds up. Especially if you are on a limited income. Like many of the volunteer drivers who took me to my appointments are.

Even if I owned a car, the nature of the majority of my treatments were such that I was told not to drive on the days of my appointments. And while many of my friends offered to drive me down and back again, scheduling conflicts resulted in about 2/3 of the trips being made with the help of the Canadian Cancer Society.

Cancer Society volunteers drive patients to doctor appointments and treatment sessions all over the country. Most of them are retired folks looking to do some good with their free time.  As a result most of them are also on a fixed income. Even with the small mileage stipend provided by the Society (at the time of my radiation visits it was $0.20/km) most of these drivers end up spending a good chunk of change providing this service. Many that used to volunteer are ceasing to do so due to the expense. Adding road tolls on top of fuel, etc. is not going to help stem the decline.

Hundreds of people every day travel to major cities like Toronto, Hamilton, and London not because we have chosen to live or work there but because some medical facilities are available nowhere else. Every time the cost of traveling to one of these cities goes up, the cost for some people, of staying healthy, or even alive, goes up with it.

Now, would road tolls have kept me from going for my treatments? Of course not! But they would have kept me from going for coffee or even lunch while I was there as my lunch money would have had to go to pay the toll. And what city can afford that in this economy? And it likely would have forced me to seek out alternate, and likely far more expensive, means of transportation as there would have been a lot fewer volunteers.

Is this reason enough to avoid ideas like road tolls to raise revenue in major cities? In a practical world, I suppose not. But I hope at least that by raising the issue measures would be taken to reduce the impact of such decisions, like exempting those traveling for health care reasons from paying such tolls. (Please feel free to share this blog with any decision makers you may know.)

It is expenses such as these that contribute to the health care burden on the average citizen. These are among the ‘hidden’ health care costs that rarely get calculated into the formulas. Politicians and bureaucrats need to remember that road tolls and other revenue raising methods can affect more than just the bottom line.

Till next time… Shalom.