Jacqueline Zweng enjoys a laugh with her seven-year-old daughter Hailey. Jacqueline

Cyclist battling cancer teaches daughter life lesson with ride

For Jacqueline Zweng, getting out and riding her bike throughout Greater Victoria is the best form of therapy.

For Jacqueline Zweng, getting out and riding her bike throughout Greater Victoria is the best form of therapy.

Several times a week, Zweng will head out and cycle along the Dallas Road waterfront, the Galloping Goose or the E&N trail.

“When I’m on my bike, my mind focuses, my anxiety lowers, I just feel amazing on my bike,” said the 38-year-old Greater Victoria resident.

Cycling has become especially important to the single mother since she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer on Nov. 13, 2015.

A few months prior to her diagnosis, Zweng noticed a lump on her chest.

She went to the doctor to get it checked out, had a mammogram and shortly doctors discovered a tumour.

“I was very shocked. I think everyone has preconceived ideas of what it means. I still find it hard to believe that I have cancer,” said Zweng, noting she had been very healthy and active before the diagnosis. “It’s very overwhelming to be told how sick you’re going to be when you don’t feel sick in the first place.”

A few weeks later, she had surgery to remove the tumour and started chemotherapy almost immediately after.

The diagnosis was especially hard on her seven-year-old daughter Hailey. During the first few weeks of Zweng’s diagnosis, Hailey was afraid to touch her, fearing she would catch her mother’s illness. In the weeks following, Zweng has chemotherapy every three to four weeks over an eight-month period which resulted in her losing her hair, but it was the thought of her daughter that kept her going.

“I don’t have an option sometimes to have to take care of myself when I have to take care of somebody else. She definitely helped me push through,” Zweng said.

“There’s a lot of insecurity when it comes to losing your hair and your body changes. But children don’t see those things. They just love you anyway. There’s a lot of strength in that. She’s really been encouraging.”

Despite her diagnosis, Zweng also never stopped riding her bike. In between treatments and whenever she felt better, Zweng would hop on her bike and go for a ride to keep herself “levelled and centred,” and to be a role model for Hailey.

“That for me was the best possible therapy,” she said, adding she continues to ride in between her current radiation treatments.

Zweng is one of hundreds of people participating in this year’s Ride to Conquer Cancer, a two-day annual cycling fundraiser from Vancouver to Seattle for the B.C. Cancer Foundation .

In the past, Zweng has participated in the Boomer’s Legacy Ride from Comox to Victoria, and decided to surround herself with like-minded people all cycling for a common cause.

More importantly, Zweng hopes to teach her daughter that she can do anything she puts her mind to.

“The thing that I hope I taught my daughter through this experience is be strong through something that is really horrible, but that it’s also okay to be vulnerable. We’ve cried together, we’ve laughed together, we’ve accomplished things together,” Zweng said.

“I hope she learns at the end of the day that you really can do anything that you put your mind to. I hope she grows up believing that about herself.”

The B.C. Ride to Conquer Cancer takes place on Aug. 27 to 28. For more information visit conquercancer.ca.