Woman begins emotional ride

Victoria's Samantha Van Nerum will be participating in this year's Ride to Conquer Cancer for her sister who beat the disease.

Victoria's Samantha Van Nerum (left) during the 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Victoria's Samantha Van Nerum (left) during the 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer.

Samantha Van Nerum can’t help but get emotional when she recalls the day she received a phone call from her mother, stating her younger sister had cancer in a tumour the size of a grapefruit behind her spine.

It was November 2012 and her sister Hayley was only 23 years old. Samantha was driving in the car with her father when she got the call from her mother, sobbing uncontrollably.

“We knew right away. I really just didn’t know what to do,” said Samantha, a Victoria resident who flew to Vancouver that night to see her sister living in Whistler.

“She wasn’t crying or anything. She was really calm about it. I just remember I was pretty much numb. It felt like it wasn’t real.”

The next three months were a roller coaster of emotions for the Van Nerum family. Hayley began radiation therapy in December, undergoing 28 treatments before her surgery in February.

Since she wanted to continue living in Whistler, Hayley’s mother rented a condo to be by her daughter’s side and take her back and forth to Vancouver for treatment. Samantha wanted to drop out of university to do the same, but Hayley wouldn’t allow that, so the pair talked on the phone every day.

“She was so positive. She’d always call me on her ride down (to Vanouver),” said Samantha, adding the difficult time was very stressful for her parents.

“She was so okay with everything and calm. I was really the only person she could talk to about it. She didn’t want to tell my parents when she was a bit down.”

In order to help her family take their mind off things, Samantha signed up for the 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer. It was an emotional ride that left her in a river of tears once she crossed the finish line.

On Saturday, Samantha will be doing the ride again to honour her sister and a dear friend who passed away in November from brain cancer after battling the disease for five years. He was only 29.

“My sister and him both never in the hospital asked ‘why me?’ They were very positive,” said Samantha. “He tried to fight, but he knew he wasn’t going to win, so he did everything. He did tons of extreme sports, got really into rock climbing, got married and had a baby. He was happy with what he did.”

So far Hayley’s story has had a happy ending.

During a check-up after the surgery, the Van Nerum family was given the good news that her cancer was gone. Hayley sat there with a smile and Samantha had never been so happy in her life. The family knows, however, that Hayley’s cancer is aggressive and could likely return.

When Samantha hops on her bike this Saturday to ride 200 km over two days, she knows it’ll likely be another emotional finish. So far, she has raised more than $2,500 for the ride and hopes to reach $3,000 by the time it begins.

This year’s ride starts in Vancouver and ends in Seattle. All the money raised benefits the B.C. Cancer Foundation and supports leading clinicians, scientists and researchers. Since 2009, the ride has raised more than $59 million for the B.C. Cancer Foundation and is B.C.’s largest cycling fundraiser.

— Pamela Roth

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kenny Podmore, here seen at Sidney’s cenotaph in November, says he feels for the veterans after organizers had to cancel an event acknowledging Victory in Europe (VE) Day for the second time in as many years because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich event marking 75th anniversary of VE-Day cancelled

Sidney resident first planned event for May 9, 2020 moved to May 8 before being cancelled

Individuals and businesses are encouraged to bring their unwanted electronics to Tillicum Centre May 14 to be shredded, recycled or donated. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria residents can shred, donate electronics safely

Vancouver Island Better Business Bureau hosts event May 14 at Tillicum Centre

Penelope the cat showed up safe and sound at her owner’s porch after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks. (Photo courtesy of Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing)
Penelope, cat and friend of the Victoria HarbourCats, returns home safe

The cat had an after an unusual trip through the news cycle in recent weeks

Stanley Fischer (right) died while in a Victoria police jail cell hours after he was arrested on Nov. 15, 1981. Forty years later, his family is questioning his cause of death. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fischer)
Family wants investigation into man’s 1981 death while in Victoria police custody

Stanley Fischer’s death was ruled a suicide after he was found hanging in his jail cell

The Compost Education Centre is hosting its annual spring plant sale on May 8 at 1216 North Park St. Physical distancing protocols will be in effect during the sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Black Press Media file photo)
This weekend: Tenth annual spring plant sale hosted by Victoria Compost Education Centre

The non-profit event Saturday, May 8 will feature numerous varieties of plants, live music

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read