Every night, Tracey Crewe can be found in her basement training on her road bike for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer event to be held this summer. Crewe is riding in the event to remember her mother and raise money to “continue the desperately needed research that will one day stop cancer from taking our loved ones.”
The two-day ride from Toronto to Niagara raises funds for the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.
Crewe’s mother, Elizabeth Marsh, succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 59. Marsh was the type of person who always strived to take care of herself: she ate healthy, exercised frequently and paid close attention to her health. In November of 2000 she went for her annual mammogram and was told that she was fine but that her right breast seemed dense. Six weeks later, just before Christmas, Marsh suddenly began to feel pain in her right breast, starting a long and demanding journey that ended in her passing in September 2003.
“Surgeons performed a biopsy on the breast and found cancer. By the time they operated the tumor was eight centimeters,” said Crewe.
Marsh had a full mastectomy on her right side and started a regiment of chemotherapy. Numerous trips to the doctor revealed the cancer had metastasized to her liver and her bones. Marsh started monthly treatments for the newly discovered cancer, however in March 2003 she discovered a lump on her leg that turned out to be skin cancer, which in turn had spread to her spinal fluid.
“It was 22 months from the time she first felt something until she passed away,” said Crewe. “My mother always joked and told us she just wanted to get to 60 so she could collect her Canadian Pension Plan; she had a great sense of humour.”
Crewe was there every step of the way, taking her mother to every cancer treatment and appointment. She said she feels very fortunate to have been able to do that.
When she turned 40 last summer, Crewe pledged that she would get back to being healthy and fit and began working out, taking part in Woolwich’s Try a Tri event last June and joined the Waterloo County Wanderers, a local cycling club.
“I have always wanted to do something, but I have asthma and other health issues – I began to think ‘what can I do to get healthier and make a difference?’ Over the last couple of years I have done a lot to get my health back to the way I wanted it and just recently I decided that I was going to participate in the ride for my mom and for myself.”
Last summer her husband’s father passed away with a blood cancer, and she decided to raise funds to help research all cancers as more and more people around the world suffer or know someone suffering with the disease.
She signed up for the Ride for Cancer in September.
“I find it so peaceful to just get on my bike and hit the road. Just me and bike going at my own pace, it helps me clear my mind.”
Crewe now clocks close to 40 kilometres a day and works out at a local gym five days a week to improve her cardio and her leg and upper-body strength.
The event will start in Toronto on June 9, stopping in Hamilton for the night before the riders continue on to Niagara Falls and the finish line. Riders will be expected to travel 100 kilometres each day.
Crewe will not be cycling alone, as her friend and teammate Lisa Stockie will be alongside her, riding in the event in memory of her grandmother who passed away of stomach cancer just before Christmas.
Crewe is holding local fundraisers to help with the minimum of $2,500 entry fee. So far she has raised $900 towards her goal.
On Jan. 21 she will be holding an all-day scrap-a-thon in the basement of the New Apostolic Church starting at 10 a.m. The cost is $20 person with all proceeds going towards the fundraiser. A light lunch will be offered at the event.
“I had a thought that everyone has taken Christmas photos but they just end up on the computer, so why not have a day where everyone can come and spread out their photos and work with others to help create a nice page in their photo album,” she said. “A lot of people find it hard to find the space and the time to organize their photos and this gives them a chance to do it without the kids yapping in their ear.”
Cher Wylie, a consultant from Creative Memories, a scrapbooking supply company, will be on hand and will offer a selection of tools to use as well as supplies available for purchase with 15 per cent of sales going to Crewe’s fundraising efforts.
Crewe will also be selling Elmira Poultry products to raise funds with $5 from each item sold being donated to her goal. The deadline she has set for that fundraiser is Feb. 6, with the products being delivered on Feb. 24
To register for the event or place an order for some Elmira Poultry, contact Crewe by email at email@example.com or to donate to the ride go to www.conquercancer.ca and enter Tracey Crewe’s name.