Tour de Rock rolls on – Ladysmith Chronicle


September is often seen as a time of change and a new beginning. It’s also a month of cancer education. This September, Vancouver Island’s Tour de Rock is doing what it started in 1998 – one pedal stroke at a time helping transform the lives of people with childhood cancer.

Fight in battles to win the war

Steve Webb’s personal connection with the tour goes back to its beginnings and his own son’s cancer battle. Matt was nearing his fourth birthday when in February 1996 a seemingly insignificant medical problem resulted in a cancer diagnosis and a life-changing battle with Burkitt’s lymphoma.

Treatment of this aggressive cancer requires aggressive chemotherapy, which is incredibly harsh on a young, developing body. While chemo can destroy cancer, it can do a lot of damage to organs that are still growing, and unfortunately Matt has encountered other complications with the treatment.

A perforated bowel resulted in a secondary staph infection that attacked his heart, and more chemo, as planned, would be too much for his tiny body.

But timing is everything, they say. At that time, the fight against AIDS brought new insights into the treatment of Burkitt’s lymphoma. With the latest research, doctors believed the cancer had been defeated and they could do without the planned chemotherapy.

In addition to winning this battle, Matt won the war – he was finally on his way to recovery.

The Canadian Cancer Society’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock continues! Photo by Arnold Lim Visuals LTD.

Pay it up front

At the age of five, and finally curly hair, Matt and Steve came across Martin Pepper and the Cops for Cancer. Matt decided on the spot to shave his head in front of the crowd to raise money to help fight cancer. Like his son, Steve wanted to do what he could, so the whole family got involved in the first Tour de Rock.

This fundraiser, unique on Vancouver Island, unites every driver with a child fighting cancer. The money raised goes to research to find cures and better ways to treat the disease – the same type of research that led Matt’s doctors to stop his treatment “early,” which meant his young body was changing could recover. “It saved his life,” says Steve simply.

The money raised will also go to Camp Goodtimes, another important part of the image for children struggling with scars, hair loss and feeling “different”.

Steve says the tour and Camp Goodtimes dwarfed Christmas and birthdays on the calendar for Matt. “It was amazing how the kids hid their baldness or surgical scars at the beginning of the week and felt comfortable with themselves – they gained confidence,” he says.

Steve knows it is important for other families to share their experiences of having similar struggles. Her family has been involved in the Tour de Rock from the very beginning and Steve is now on the Tour de Rock Steering Committee that connects every rider with a family to ride for. “Everyone has a really good reason to want to drive for the kids,” he says.

Continuing what he started when he was five, 19-year-old Matt was a guest rider on the 2012 tour, cycling the full length of Vancouver Island and sharing his story as a guest speaker along the way. Now he’s married and he’s starting his career, his whole life still lies ahead of him.

Everyone knows someone who has fought or is currently battling cancer. For families with children with cancer, the struggle is incredibly tough. Make a donation today to help more kids like Matt.

The Tour de Rock starts on Monday 20th September in Port Alice. Here you can find out when they come across your community.

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