Few reasons are more compelling to grab a spot on the 2013 Tour de Rock team than to help give your own son and other children a fighting chance to beat cancer.
Const. Misty Dmytar, 39, is relatively new to the Nanaimo RCMP detachment, but she and her two-year-old son, Griffyn, are well known in the Comox Valley where she served until recently, and to Tour de Rock teams from the last couple of years.
She is one of two riders from the Nanaimo area, joining Const. Ed de Jong, who is based at the detachment on Gabriola Island.
When Griffyn was just four days old he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of infant cancer that presents about 50-70 cases a year in Canada.
Dmytar and her partner had to get Griffyn into treatment immediately.
“Griffyn was the youngest they’d ever seen that had come in with neuroblastoma,” Dmytar said.
Surgeons took a tumour the size of a baseball, weighing 230 grams, off of his right adrenal gland. They took the gland too.
Initial treatment produced positive results, but an ultrasound taken a few months later revealed a tumour on Griffyn’s other adrenal gland and spots on his liver.
Five months of chemotherapy treatment halted the disease. The tumour shrunk to half its size and the spots on his liver are still there, but the disease has been effectively dormant since 2010. For now and hopefully forever, Griffyn has beaten cancer. He returns for more tests this month.
In the meantime, Dmytar is training for the tour, which starts Sept. 21. Combined with fundraising, it’s a big commitment for a mother of two who works 12-hour shifts.
Const. Ed de Jong, 43, is a recent arrival to the central Island region. He moved to Gabriola with his family in January after serving in Terrace, B.C.
His reason for getting in the saddle for the 2013 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock is simply to offer something back to the community in which he works.
“For me, being in the position I’m in as an RCMP member, the ability to give back to the community is a big thing for me and just the fact that this event supports kids with cancer makes it such an easy decision to do,” de Jong said.
With two children – a son, 11, and daughter, 14 – who are healthy, de Jong counts his blessings. His father-in-law is a cancer survivor.
Living on Gabriola Island means catching a ferry to Nanaimo to meet up with other team members for training rides out of Parksville and Nanaimo. The time and transportation restrictions have translated into de Jong doing most of his training alone on Gabriola roads. A 90-kilometre ride means three laps around the island.
Oceanside RCMP’s Tour de Rock rider Cpl. Jesse Foreman said he was inspired to get involved by “looking at my own healthy kids and when I saw some who weren’t healthy I wanted to do something.”
His boys are currently seven and nine, making their understanding and support important to Foreman as he squeezes training between his family and full-time job at the Oceanside detachment where he’s in charge of community policing.
Like his fellow riders, he’s been touched by cancer in his family with a grandfather, aunt and uncle all dealing with the disease on some level.
He is also inspired by five-year-old Lucas, the junior rider he’s been teamed up with. The local kid was in and out of the hospital for eight months and lost his kidney to cancer, but is now in remission.
Foreman said that other than having to go back to Children’s Hospital every four months for tests until he’s 18, “you can’t tell him apart from any other kid.”
For these three riders, they say it’s the least they can do to support these kids.
“The more money we raise through Tour de Rock, the more chance these kids have and the better the treatments that will come out,” Dmytar said.