It’s been eight years, but I still remember my daughter’s first cry as she introduced herself to the world. Cradling six pounds and 14 ounces in my arms, I vividly recall seeing her for the first time, thinking how weightless she felt – and whispering a silent promise into her ear that I would always protect her from harm.
Almost a decade later, looking out on a crowd gathered at the Royal B.C. Museum for the announcement of the 2013 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team, I see her clapping wildly alongside my son as I am introduced as one of 21 tour riders. I recall feeling grateful for their health, as parents in that very room shed tears because their kids weren’t so lucky.
After five years of covering the build-up to the two-week, 1,000-kilometre ride as a journalist, photographing and writing stories about riders, volunteers and survivors, those tears still get to me.
Cancer has not yet reached my immediate family. I am one of the fortunate few, but I know there is no guarantee my luck will hold out. I know my fortune thus far is in part because of ongoing efforts by the Canadian Cancer Society and its supporters, who selflessly donate time and finances to the research that has improved the odds of keeping cancer away and helped those diagnosed with the disease stay healthier longer.
There is no cure for cancer so more work needs to be done, but one day there will be. I don’t know when – maybe not in my lifetime – but I know it will happen. I train believing every pedal stroke and kilometre we ride will take us one pedal stroke and one kilometre closer to a cure. Many days it is the only thing that keeps me going, as fatigued legs scream out at me to stop.
I can’t stop, because I made a promise, the same one millions of parents have made – one any mother or father would lay down their life to keep. I ride because cancer is a formidable opponent that doesn’t make promises, it breaks them. One day, the parent robbed of the ability to keep their promise to their child could be me.
Arnold Lim represents Black Press on the 2013 Tour de Rock team. His column will appear every two weeks through the end of the tour. To donate to his campaign, visit copsforcancerbc.ca/tourderock/arnoldlim.