Riding the Rideau to fight cancer

If Bruce Norman had known he had cancer nine years ago, he would’ve skipped a vasectomy two weeks prior to being diagnosed.

Since chemotherapy can cause infertility, “it’s sort of a morbid, funny story,” said Norman, 39, who lives near Almonte.

“I could’ve had this for free.”

Now he’s participating in the third annual Ride the Rideau to thank the hospital that saved his life.

The 100 km bike ride from Ottawa to Merrickville-Wolford takes place Sept. 8

Funds directly support cancer research at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

The event raised $1.8 million last year, with about 715 riders.

This year, 21 survivors are registered to ride in eastern Ontario’s largest single-day cancer fundraiser.

Norman has already surpassed the $1,500 cyclists must raise to participate.

He was just 30 – with two young daughters, Amelia and Pippa – when a neighbour noticed his swollen neck and asked if Norman played football.

“And I said, ‘well look at me, I’m skinny as a rake, so no,’” said Norman, a cyclist who normally rides 70 to 80 km a trip.

He went to see a doctor: Stage Two Hodgkin lymphoma was the verdict.

“My whole upper body was riddled with it,” Norman said.

He had none of the ordinary symptoms such as fatigue, night sweats, or itchy skin.

On top of that, his family has no history of cancer.

“I didn’t know until the surface node had displayed it,” he said.

Norman’s wife, Simone, had offered to go to the appointment with him.

He declined.

When Norman got home, he told her he had blood cancer.

“And I remember her collapsing on the floor,” he said.

That same week, they were set to travel to England for a family reunion.

“We were supposed to fly out the Friday. I found out the Monday,” he said.

The trip was cancelled and Norman began treatment.

Norman left work for eight months and remains employed by construction giant PCL.

“After five years, you’re statistically cured,” he said.

“Chances of recurring are very low.”

An estimated 940 new cases of Hodgkin lymphoma will be diagnosed this year, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Roughly 6,000 people in the Ottawa area are diagnosed with cancer annually.

“I don’t think anybody is immune to it, which is exactly why it’s a very dangerous disease,” he said.

For more information, check out ridetherideau.ca




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