Article by inspirational Top 30 Vancouver Mom Blogger and cancer survivor Hillary Westover.
In late 2012, I saw my doctor for my yearly checkup and she discovered that the reassuringly small nodule I’d had on my thyroid for years didn’t feel so reassuringly small anymore. After six months of blood tests, ultrasounds, and biopsies, I had a baseball-sized tumour removed from my neck and was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I was thirty years old. My son was one.
Loving, Thoughtful, Benevolent People
Being diagnosed with cancer is devastating at any age but it felt particularly unjust to be diagnosed with cancer as a new mom (like cancer is concerned about being fair!) I’m so lucky to have a supportive circle of family and friends who rallied around me and did everything they could to make my life easier. People brought us meals. They took my son on play dates and fun outings to keep him occupied. They drove me to appointments. They sent encouraging words to make sure my family felt loved and supported. One friend brought me a stack of deliciously mindless magazines after my hospital stay was extended. Another literally scrubbed my kitchen clean while I slept all afternoon.
I’m surrounded by loving, thoughtful, benevolent people.
Saying Thank You With Actions
I can only say “thank you” so many times before I start to feel like my words are paltry and just not enough. I decided to participate in The Ride to Conquer Cancer to show my family and friends how much I appreciate everything they’ve done to support me. If I can’t adequately thank them with my words, I’ll do it with my actions. I’ll spread the word that The BC Cancer Foundation is working toward a world free from cancer. I’ll raise funds (the goal is to invest over 70% of the funds raised by The Ride directly into cancer research). I’ll train hard, conquer my fear of traffic, and ride my bike for 200km (hold me). I’ll show my love and appreciation for my family and friends by supporting The BC Cancer Foundation, and hope with all I have that none of my loved ones ever need their services.
The support and encouragement I’ve been shown hasn’t just come from my immediate circle. Since deciding to do The Ride, I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of my local community. Cap’s Krusty’s Bicycles gave me a discount on my gear and, more importantly, spent hours with me teaching me the ins and outs of cycling, giving this rookie invaluable confidence and enthusiasm. The Peak, a Vancouver radio station, held a contest called Peak it Forward. Listeners were encouraged to submit applications to win cash for someone – or something – important. My little brother had expressed interest in joining The Ride but he doesn’t have a bike. I decided to apply for Peak it Forward on a whim; imagine my surprise when I heard my name called as I was listening to The Peak on my way to work. Hopcott’s Meadows Maze donated a portion of one evening’s corn maze entry fee to my fundraising efforts. These businesses and individuals have truly shown me the meaning of teamwork.
The Ride to Conquer Cancer
The Ride to Conquer Cancer is celebrating the Team Up Challenge this October, encouraging people to join The Ride and form teams to promote the spirit of joining forces to conquer cancer. If you’re interested in joining an existing team, I’m on Team Cap’s Westwoodcycle.ca and we’d love to have you join us!
Cancer is hard. It’s scary and life changing and isolating. Being a part of someone’s cancer team, whether it be practical or emotional or financial support you provide, is the greatest thing you can do for someone facing the fight of their life. Teaming up to conquer cancer is the way we’re going to beat this insidious disease.
Hillary pretends she knows what she’s doing at hillarywith2Ls.com. She lives in the gorgeous Tri-Cities and loves and laughs every day with her rockstar husband and feral toddler. As of June 2014, she is cancer-free. You can donate to her ride here or her brother’s ride here. Follow her training journey on Twitter and Instagram.