Certain traits run in the family. Unfortunately, for Michael Turgeon, it’s prostate cancer.
The 53-year-old lost his grandfather to the disease 40 years ago. A burly man, 200-some pounds, Turgeon’s grandfather’s prostate went unchecked until it was too late and he learned his cancer was terminal. Turgeon’s father was diagnosed with prostate cancer 18 years ago, but early detection and treatment saved his life.
“If you do nothing, you get nothing,” Turgeon said, pointing to the words inscribed on his left bicep. “I got that tattooed on my arm.”
Doing something – getting yourself checked annually – can save your life, said Turgeon, a motorcycle enthusiast and part-time musician.
Last Friday, bikers and doctors at the Prostate Centre at the University of Victoria launched the Westcoast Motorcycle Ride to Live, talking about the impact the funds raised in years past have on research into the disease.
“We had a good lead before getting funding from the Ride to Live, but no ability to invest more time, more resources without that,” said Dr. Fraser Hof, a chemist at the university and principal investigator on a drug development project. “This is a compound that blocks a molecule that causes aggressive prostate cancer in a test tube.”
Since funding from last year’s ride arrived at the Prostate Centre, researchers have been able to devote their efforts to these sorts of projects.
“There’s real breakthroughs going on,” said Vince Bevan, executive director of Ride to Live. “It’s not one of those cancers that receives a lot of attention or government funding. That’s why we do this.”
This year’s Ride to Live takes place Sunday, June 5 at 10 a.m. Bikers are invited to sign up and get pledges for participation. The ride begins at Steve Drane Harley-Davidson in Goldstream.
The ride helps raise money, all of which stays on Vancouver Island, to help fund prostate cancer research and education.
It’s estimated that two people die each week on Vancouver Island because of prostate cancer.
“My dad tells me, ‘Mike, it’s not a life sentence. You can still deal with it, provided you’ve done your early intervention.’ My dad is living proof of that.”
For more information on this year’s ride and how to participate, visit www.vi-ridetolive.ca.
On Friday, June 3, local musicians The Weeds (Turgeon’s band) will play a show to help raise money for the cause.
The event takes place at the Langford Legion (761 Station Ave.).
Tickets are $15 and are available from Steve Drane Harley-Davidson (2940 Ed Nixon Terr.) and Serious Coffee (100-1609 Blanshard, Victoria).