Cancervive: Riding to Conquer Cancer

Some people are too good. The Cancervive team, participating in this years’ Ride to Conquer Cancer can definitely be put in that box. The team of 19 are going to ride 200km+ each over October 17th and 18th to raise money for the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. On top of working flat out, they are fundraising, training and increasing awareness across the hospitality industry and beyond.

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The aim of the game is to raise funds for cancer research and to make more people aware of the issues that face cancer patients and to help people understand that they can help. And it seems that riding 220km is that way to do that!

Jacqui, Nicole from Old Faithful and their Boyz II Men fan mate, Kabir, part of Team Cancervive, let me know why they’re doing it and why.

First and foremost, why are you doing this?

Jacqui: My reasons for participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer are very simple. Cancers of all kinds are something that cannot be prevented or controlled, can affect anyone of any age, race or sexuality and are absolutely brutal in consequence. This is something, however small, that I and the ones around me can do to provide hope to those suffering and their families. At times, I have felt stressed by fundraising commitments, or have been sore from training, or felt less womanly without my hair. The fact is that none of these things really matter when there are parents mourning young children, or people my age counting their final days.

I chose the Ride to Conquer Cancer as a means to fundraise because it would combine my interests with an opportunity to contribute to a worthwhile and locally supportive charity such as the Harry Perkins Institute, and I would be able to do so with my friends by my side very step of the way.

Nicole: Initially, I decided to do the ride to support my co-worker Kathryn in her personal goal to raise funds for such a good cause. I initially didn’t consider riding, I only was going to volunteer my hair to their fundraising cause.

Kabir: I think in life we have to give, it’s my life belief. I would like to think that the world was a better place because I was in it. So I find events that align with my personal interests (riding) and with charities that focus on things that are important to me.

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How hard was it get your team together?

J: Kathryn Jury captained a team for the Ride last year, and I remember seeing her prepare mentally and physically for the feat, as we were working together then. Myself and Mirko simply joined her team, Cancervive!

K: I joined this team last year and when I was riding with my buddy Michael. We heard our friends were riding and their team name was Cancervive, so much good pun, how could one resist, the rest was history. Here I am, one year on!

N: It was fairly simple to be honest, Kathryn and Jacqui had an already great network of riders in her team so I kind of just tagged along into that.

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Were you a cyclist before? Or is this a new venture?

K: Yes, unfortunately, I am a lycra wearing twat, have been for many years. I love cycling.

J: I wouldn’t use the word ‘cyclist’, but I have ridden bikes as long as I can remember. No lycra though! I have always enjoyed the freedom, fitness, and cheapness of riding a bicycle around! Meeting Mirko introduced me to fixed gear bikes and certain elements of servicing them, and the differences between different styles of bikes and cycling. I have grown to love riding more and more!

What’s the process been like, from deciding you were going to do this, to get to just over two weeks from the race?

J: It’s quite surreal, a few months ago I would never have imagined attempting a 220km bike ride! It is actually a very long way. I have been focussing on the tasks bit by bit, for a while there I was only really thinking about the fundraising goal, and then in the last couple of weeks it became very real about the physical elements of this commitment! I’ve also had to prepare in other ways, such as getting all of the items needed to make such a ride possible (or comfortable) like cycling clothing. Lycra and padded pants takes a bit of getting used to! I never saw myself as the lycra type…

N: I only really decided in June, right before the big fundraiser so it really feels like a whirlwind even though it’s been a few months since I made the commitment. It’s been an easy process so far, and I’ve been fortunate to have the support from Jacqui this whole time.

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How much training are you doing each week?

K: I just finished doing a section of the great wall of China, it was pretty amazing. So I was training for that, doing Jacobs ladder three times a week, sometimes more, plus my normal gym routine. So right now I am riding 5 days a week in the hope that I can get used to long distance stuff as the training for China was much different.

N: It’s pretty shameful, but I’ve only really done about 10-15km rides with my mum. I’m hoping that my general fitness will help em cross the finish line!


So you’re fundraising, yeah?

J: I set my goal above the minimum amount of $2500 [recently upped to $3,200]; I was confident that I would be able to exceed the requirements. When I set my mind to something, I am VERY driven to achieve what I have set out to. At this point, any extra funds that I raise will be much appreciated, I can’t say an amount at this point, just as much as I possibly can!

K: I don’t usually like asking for money apart from family and work colleagues. This year I am holding a Blue Light Disco for adults, last year I held a ball that was lit only by candles. I like holding small intimate events and by donations of products, I can usually keep margins high enough to make a considerable amount.

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You both shaved your heads to raise money for this campaign. What made you choose to do that?

J: I chose to shave my head, alongside Nicole, for two reasons.

Shaving my hair was a fabulous fundraising tool, as people would be quite curious and ask why I no longer had hair! It was a great way to talk about the cause, and how passionately I feel about it. People can plainly see that I mean business, I mean let’s be honest, I do love my hair and makeup!

The other reason that I shaved my hair is a way to show support and perhaps understand a little of what people going through chemotherapy and other treatments are experiencing. People stare, and they wonder, they make jokes.

N: It was something fun and different to do, for a great cause. The idea was put in my head by Kathryn and Jacqui and it didn’t take much convincing, I just wanted to help them whichever way I could.

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Do you feel different since you went through with the shave? How have people responded to you? How has it changed how you present yourself?

J: Sometimes it hurts! People sometimes don’t realise how the things they say can affect people. It was hard at times to go out and get dressed up, at times I haven’t quite felt myself. Before the shave, I was quite mentally prepared, and very determined to face every step of my hair regrowth as a reminder of why I got started in the first place. I do feel different without my hair, but the times when I don’t feel like myself are far outweighed by the feelings of pride for the motivations why I did it.

Having Nicole go through the same awkward puffy tennis ball head days makes it so much easier. We will ride together with pride as well.

N: Liberated. I feel liberated. I know it’s such a superficial thing to have hair, and I do miss it but I feel somehow…freer(?) without it. I haven’t really changed how I present myself but I’m proud of my decision to shave my head and so if anything, I think it’s made me walk a little bit taller.

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You work in hospitality, have your colleagues and peers, and the wider industry been supportive of what you’re doing?

J: The hospitality community has been AMAZING. I cannot say enough how much I love our strange little family. Chefs have donated dinners, beautiful deserts, all of the food at my main fundraising event, Bikes, Bald Babes and Beer. Alcohol companies and local breweries donated the alcohol, my lovely staff from Old Faithful donated their time to work the event. Of course the hospitality staff like a drink as well, and showed so much support and their personal dollars. Not to mention the owners of my bar generously allowing us to use the fantastic venue.

N: Honestly, apart from a few comments here and there (such as: you’re going to look so weird without hair) haha, everyone has been an absolute wealth of support. The hospitality scene is one of great generosity and from donations to in-kind donations and moral support, there’s been a bounty of good will surrounding our fundraising.

If you could tell people one thing to try and explain why they need to support this cause, what would it be?

J: Cancer can affect anyone, at any age, and I would say we all know someone who has been touched directly or indirectly by these insidious diseases.

I hope that in the not so distant future, we can look back proudly on efforts like these and know that we have caused there to be more effective treatments or a cure.  The money that you donate is funding valuable research, which is the only way we can make progress against cancer.

K: The way I think of volunteering, donations or charity work. I have $x and so many hours in a week. If I honestly ask myself: do I need all the money I have or all the time I have during the week. Without lying to myself, my answer is actually no, so I choose to give some if away to help people, causes or things that will ultimately benefit other people. This goes with my overall belief, I want the world to be a better place because I was in it.

N: Honestly, it’s hard because there are so many good causes to donate to. One thing that I really like about the Harry Perkins Institute for Medical Research is that the money doesn’t go into overheads or anything else, it’s directly given to the research and development to finding a cure for cancer.

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What will you be doing post-race to recuperate?

K: I will be jumping into that shower and probably singing some Boyz II Men song really loud, possibly End of the Road. I will then sleep for 2-3 hours, much like last year. Last year I woke up the next morning and did Jacobs ladder, while you have the momentum, you might as well keep going.

N: Probably not a lot, as there’s a good chance I’ll be highly immobile for a while. I’ll probably have some tea, a bath and play with my cat Peanut.

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You can donate straight to the Cancervive team, or donate directly to Jacqui, Nicole and Kabir.

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