When a classmate of hers passed away from leukemia at a young age, Pamela Harris learned that cancer does not discriminate. It’s a fact that Harris, an officer commanding with the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service and one of this year’s Tour de Rock riders, has not been able to shake since.
“That memory stuck with me and has impacted me knowing that cancer does not discriminate and it can and does affect anyone regardless of age,” Harris says.
Much of Harris’ decision to be a part of the Tour has to do with that memory, but it is also influenced by the strength of a dear friend who successfully fought Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“I am so grateful that there has been so much work and research done that made it possible for my best friend to make it through something like that, and now she helps so many people on a daily basis,” Harris says. “While hers was not pediatric cancer, it is still thanks in part to the CCS (Canadian Cancer Society) that people like my friend have a better chance of survival.”
It’s out of gratitude that Harris is proud to be a rider this year, and eager to do all that she can to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research.
“The kids are the reason why we all do this. They are enough inspiration for all of us,” she says.
Especially motivating to Harris has been receiving updates about this year’s junior riders, some of whom are currently fighting cancer, and hearing stories of their tough battle for survival.
“This is heartbreaking and we are doing all that we can to help raise money and hope to find better treatment for the future and now, so that hopefully one day no family will have to experience losing a child to cancer,” Harris says.
Harris’ commitment to doing all that she can for children affected by cancer was taken one step further during a recent visit to family and friends in Whitehorse, Yukon. There, Harris participated as a solo rider in the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay, a 283-kilometre course from Haines Junction, Yukon to Haines, Alaska.
“It was a wonderful experience that I would likely not have been prepared for if it weren’t for the Tour de Rock trainers, and even better that I was able to share info about Tour de Rock with people from up there and also was able to raise donations while there,” she says.
Besides looking forward to the actual voyage down the length of Vancouver Island, starting in Port Alice on Sept. 20, Harris can’t wait to visit Camp Goodtimes, where she will also get to meet her junior rider.
“My junior rider is actually at Camp (Goodtimes) now, so I am looking forward to hopefully hearing some of his stories from camp as well,” Harris explains.
“He’s two years cancer free and I can only imagine such a strong individual, so I know he will just further inspire me to do all that I can during this opportunity to raise funds and awareness.”