Jennifer Faerber knows firsthand the impact cancer can have on a child’s life.
Faerber, who came to Canada from Australia three years ago to continue her radio career, battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a kid. She also had the opportunity to attend a camp in Australia similar to B.C.’s Camp Goodtimes, a summer camp for children who have gone through cancer.
Faerber, one of four media riders on this year’s Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team, says going from reporting on the Tour to being a part of the event has been a deeply rewarding experience.
“When I first moved to Vancouver Island, Tour de Rock was one of the first stories I had to cover,” said Faerber, news director of Vista Radio’s Coast group of stations, based in Courtenay. “When you work in broadcasting, you talk a lot, but you don’t talk about yourself. I’ve had friends that didn’t really know what I went through.”
Faerber said one of her motivating factors as a rider is to tell people “what it’s like when you are that kid with cancer.”
She noted how grateful she is to have gone to a camp during her treatment, and wants to help kids who are currently battling cancer.
“When we visited Camp Goodtimes, the kids cheer so loudly for you. I actually felt really comfortable there; I was one of those kids,”
While the other three media riders on this year’s 21-person team haven’t experienced cancer the same way Faerber has, they all have their reasons to ride.
Black Press media rider Arnold Lim, a father of two, says he thinks about his own kids whenever he gets on the bike.
“When we went to Camp Goodtimes I met kids whose stories you don’t know completely, but you know they’ve been dealt some pretty bad cards. But they don’t look any different than my own kids,” he said. “They’re the same age as my kids, but they’ve gone through something that kids their age shouldn’t have to go through.”
Lim, who prior to training hadn’t been on a bike for years, says he’s motivated by those kids whenever he feels the aches and pains of cycling.
“There isn’t a day that goes by where my thighs aren’t throbbing or my feet are hurting, but that’s nothing compared to the chemotherapy and the spinal taps that some kids have to go through,” Lim said. “I’m not in any position to complain.”
CTV News Vancouver Island reporter and anchor Joe Perkins is grateful no children in his family have been affected by cancer, but he keeps in mind a close uncle who died from lung cancer.
“He never smoked a day in his life,” Perkins said.
He draws his motivation from his junior rider, Luke Savage, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Belmont secondary.
“Luke had three jobs this summer, worked seven days a week, knows he wants to be an electrician, he’s finishing up his Grade 12 year, and he’s in remission. … For me, that’s pretty inspiring.”
The close-knit camaraderie amongst this year’s riders and Tour de Rock team also took Perkins by surprise.
“I knew it would be special, I didn’t think it would be this special,” he said. “And that’s me saying this before we’ve even left. … I can’t wait to see the Island.”
Jillian van der Geest, an on-air host with KOOL FM, has witnessed the impact cancer has on a family whose child is battling the disease.
Caleb, the son of a family friend, was diagnosed with a brain tumour at eight years old, and died two years later.
“I spent a lot of time with his family, from diagnosis to his death, and it’s heart-wrenching and inspiring to watch a family go through that. All they wanted to do was talk about it and have good times with him,” van der Geest said.
“It was a unique experience for me to be there and help the family when I could, but ultimately how can you help with something like that? For me, Tour de Rock – this is me trying to help.”