Written By: Craig Madho, MHSc Translational Research Candidate

“Wait wait wait…before everyone leaves class, I have a question.”

It was 7 PM – we had just finished class and were getting ready to leave for the evening, but we had just started the second semester of the first year of our Masters of Health Science degree in the Translational Research Program (TRP) and we were starting to get our groove as TRP students – so we hung back to hear what our professor, Dr. Richard Foty, had to say.

“Every year my best friend and I participate in The Ride to Conquer Cancer. It’s a bike ride from here to Niagara Falls – it takes place over 2 days and you have to raise $2,500, but all of the money you raise goes towards cancer research. I know it sounds daunting, but even if you’ve never been on a bike before you can do it. Trust me. By a show of hands, who would be interested in doing the ride?”

Without thinking, my hand shot up. Eight other classmates also signed up. 

This was the birth of the TRP Disruptors, a cycling team made up of TRP students that participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer. 

Humble beginnings don’t even begin to describe the TRP Disruptors. The inaugural cycling team was made up of a ragtag group of students with varying levels of experience with cycling. Most cyclists didn’t have bikes, let alone road bikes, and several haven’t been on bikes for many years. Despite this, they still committed to riding the 250km path from Toronto to Niagara Falls and we completed it successfully. As an inexperienced rider myself, I learned a lot about cycling and training for long distance rides. However, this was not the most important lesson I learned: by becoming a part of the Ride to Conquer Cancer community I learned that you don’t have to be a healthcare professional to save lives.

Myself, along with the other TRP Disruptors, all have backgrounds in healthcare and health sciences. Whether recent graduates from diverse fields, healthcare professionals, or scientists and researchers, we have all worked to varying degrees to help heal patients. However, one common theme in these areas is it is often done with other experts in the field or with a very distinct power dynamic between us and the patient. During the Ride that is not the case: the people involved in raising funds and biking to Niagara Falls are not only doctors or researchers, but also caregivers and even cancer survivors. While on the ride, cancer survivors are given yellow flags to put on their bike to indicate that they have conquered cancer. Biking through the Canadian countryside and seeing so many yellow flags stretching out into the horizon is a truly moving experience. During the ride, your profession or degree does not matter; instead, you become part of a group of individuals who are passionate about saving lives. Recognizing that everyone can create change and that change can take on different forms, was a truly powerful lesson from my first Ride to Conquer Cancer and it’s something that I reflect on every day.

Though our lived experiences with cancer may differ, the TRP Disruptors, along with the other cyclists that participate in the ride, all share one goal: to conquer cancer in our lifetime. With every kilometer, we ride and with every dollar we raise we become closer to reaching this goal and it is our hope to continue to support the life-saving research being done at Princess Margaret Cancer Center – not only as Translational Researchers but also as TRP Disruptors.

Last year we raised $25,000 for cancer research, will you help us achieve this goal this year?

If you are able to, please donate: 

http://www.conquercancer.ca/site/TR/Ride/Toronto2018?pg=team&fr_id=1641&team_id=79747