Taylor Wheatley walks across a rocky beach in White Rock, B.C. with her bike on her shoulder, headed towards the ocean.
It is the start of a 7,000-kilometre journey across Canada to Halifax and it begins with dipping her bike’s back wheel in the Pacific.
The goal is to finish the ride but more importantly to raise research money and awareness of kids cancers.
“You look at this daunting task,” said Wheatley. “I’m going to bike 17 days from Vancouver to Halifax, but it’s so much more than that. It’s meeting those families, and giving them that hope.”
Wheatley is one of 33 cyclists on the Sears National Cancer Ride, which begins by pedalling up and down the mountains of British Columbia.
But this challenge is nothing compared to the one she battled two decades ago.
At the age of five, Wheatley was diagnosed with Leukemia.
“It’s funny the things, as a child, you remember,” she told Global News. “I remember sitting in this little tiny room and the nurses were trying to poke me with needles and I had no idea what was going on.”
Two and a half years of treatments followed and, at the end of that fight, she was declared cancer-free.
But, the battle against cancer had only just began for the determined Calgarian.
Wheatley began volunteering with the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta and that led to lacing up with cycling shoes for her first cross-Canada ride in 2013.
She repeated that grueling challenge this past September, becoming the only kids cancer survivor to complete it twice.
This year’s ride raised $1.5 million for children cancers research.
Wheatley’s father Dean has cycled it both times with his daughter to support her and the children and families fighting cancer.
Charities that once helped her as a patient aren’t surprised she’s giving back.
“Taylor is bringing awareness to this,” says Kids Cancer Care Foundation found Christine McIver. “She’s bringing money to it and she’s helping directly at the bedside.”
Wheatley, however, says the journey is not over.
Now an oncology nurse working at a Calgary hospital, she plans to ride across the country one last time next year.
“Until we can say that no family has to hear those words, that no kids have cancer, dipping our front wheels in the ocean in Halifax is not done,” she said.
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