It’s been one week since Tour de Rock wrapped up in Centennial Square, but the emotion of finishing the 1,100-kilometre ride around Vancouver Island can still be heard in Andree Noye’s voice.
Noye, a military police officer with CFB Esquimalt, along with 16 other riders, including Victoria police Todd Mason and Cam Stephens, recently wrapped up the two-week ride from Port Alice to Victoria last Friday.
The tour, which also stopped in 27 communities along the way, raises funds for the Canadian Cancer Society — money that is used to fund pediatrics cancer research and programs that help children with cancer and their families on Vancouver Island.
It was a ride Noye described as incredibly emotionally and physically exhausting, but one she’ll remember the rest of her life.
“What kept me going was because I chose to volunteer. None of the kids who have cancer chose to have cancer. I wanted to keep going for my junior riders,” said Noye, adding halfway through the ride she cut her foot so badly she required stitches. But she continued to press on, adjusting her riding style so she could complete the journey.
“Emotionally, it’s all the stories. I welcomed meeting so many people and I was glad to listen to them, but at the same time, I cried more in the last two weeks than I have in the past two years. It was overwhelming, but eye-opening.”
Participating in Tour de Rock is a cause that is close to Noye’s heart. In previous years, she has helped raise funds for other CFB Esquimalt Tour de Rock riders through dunk tanks, spin-a-thons, bottle drives and barbecues.
Noye is also a cancer survivor.
In December 2012 when Noye was in Quebec, she suffered a small accident during which she began hemorrhaging. She was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors discovered it was more than just internal bleeding, but a tumour the size of her uterus. Within a week, she had surgery to remove the tumour. While Noye said the entire diagnosis and surgery happened quickly, recovery wasn’t as easy, taking several long months for her to fully recover.
But her battle with cancer is only one of the reasons Noye decided to jump on a road bike, dedicate herself to seven months of training and don the signature Tour de Rock jerseys for this year’s ride.
As part of the ride, each team member is also paired with a junior rider suffering from cancer. It is the connection Noye formed with her junior riders, Joel and Desiree, and the stories that she heard along the ride from cancer survivors in other communities that pushed her to keeping riding.
“Tour de Rock is all about the kids. Knowing that my cancer brought me pain for several months, but it’s nothing compared to my junior riders,” she said, adding Desiree is still dealing with health issues as a result of chemotherapy.
“With my cancer, everything was resolved in a matter of weeks. But my two junior riders, didn’t get that luck. I want to make sure that we raise enough money at some point, if we can’t eradicate cancer, at least we can provide treatments that are not hurting (children) in the long term.”
This year, riders raised $1.27 million. Since 1998, the tour has raised more than $21 million for the Canadian Cancer Society.