The Ride for Survivorship – Celebrating a 50th Birthday and 13 Years of Cancer Survivorship!
By Cancer Foundation on November 4 / 2020
[Cancer, Cancer Coaching, Families]
When you look at Robert Rishikof – a loving husband and father, an adventurous cyclist, a dedicated fundraiser, and much more – it’s hard to imagine anything could ever slow him down.
But when he was diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago, he admits it was a challenge to get the kind of help and support he needed.
“It’s hard to find space for yourself when you’re sick,” he said when he first learned about Cancer Coaching in 2017, ten years after his diagnosis. “Your loved ones are dealing with your cancer as well…Cancer Coaching offers a place just for you. It unlocks space for you to breathe and gain confidence in the decisions you have to make.”
Rob was diagnosed with a rare and often incurable type of cancer in 2007. While he was determined, it was a challenge for his family, living in Ottawa with few friends and family members nearby and two little daughters under the age of three, to face such a grim prognosis. “I wish we’d had a Cancer Coach to help navigate the maze of decisions and ease the stress,” he says.
As soon as he learned about the Cancer Foundation’s work, Rob began hosting fundraising events in order to help connect families like his to a Cancer Coach. Though the service didn’t yet exist when he would have needed it, he recognized the impact it might have on people going through what he once had to face. “Cancer Coaching offers ways to support the person and the family,” he says. “They use a personal approach where it isn’t about cancer, it’s about the people. And we all need to come together to support that.”
So this year, to both mark 13 years of survivorship and celebrate his 50th birthday, Rob rallied his friends, family members and colleagues to be part of his “Ride for Survivorship” – a series of cycling rides made for smaller groups, so that all riders could stay safe and healthy. Riders faced challenges like inclement weather, cuts and scrapes, and in some cases distances more than 200 kilometres, but it was all for a great cause – and at the end of some of the rides, there was even coffee and treats waiting at the Wakefield Bakery and Les Saisons in Chelsea.
Rob adds, “The biggest challenge facing my family’s ride, the Rishikof Family Tour de Crème Glacée, was deciding which favoured ice cream stops would make the final list.”
The various rides took place over a few months, totalling more than 700 kilometres…and the group just surpassed their incredible $20,000 fundraising goal!
“The support for the Campaign has been heartwarming,” Rob says. “I want to say a huge thank you to all the riders for their fantastic attitudes and commitment to supporting the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Each of the rides had its own unique character but there was a common thread — supporting those in our community facing cancer as a way of honouring those in our lives that have been touched by the disease.”
And while the rides are over, Rob hopes the community will join them in continuing their support. “I am so fortunate…I hope you’ll help me celebrate by making sure that people with cancer and their families can face their diagnosis with dignity and empowerment.”
If you’d like to help Rob and his riders in their campaign, head to http://donate.ottawacancer.ca/goto/Rishikof. You can also check out Rob’s entertaining highlights of each ride below!
The Rides, in Rob’s Words:
- “Zb’s Ride for Rob” was the “senior’s” ride of the campaign, and its biggest hurdle was making sure that the riders with batteries had enough power to make it home!
- “There and Back Again” was an epic 214km birthday celebration for one of the riders around the entire Gatineau Park, with great sweets and coffee at the Wakefield Bakery. The group completed the tour in 6 1/2 hours — less time than a Whipple surgery — even though one rider’s tire had persistent leaks (and a wobble) and an unexpected construction detour forced the group to hike through a field of corn!
- The leftovers of hurricane Laura made the “Strokers Ride of the Damned” an unforgettable gritty, soggy and mushy ride through 67km of gravel roads north of Wakefield with the added challenge of some steep 15% grade climbs! The group’s spirits couldn’t be dampened thanks to the great company, the beautiful scenery and the scones and coffee from the Wakefield Bakery.
- Howie’s Roubaix was a 125km mega “urban exploro” romp through NCC trails, conservation areas, soccer and baseball fields, single track, and power line trails. It left its mark — including some mud, bruises and scratches — on all 25 riders who participated. The three mechanical breakdowns and two flat tires were no match for the spirit of the team.
- The Dad’s Survivorship Ride was an all encompassing 230km tour of the region east of Ottawa. A mandatory coffee stop with triple shot americanos helped power the group beyond the 200km mark while teamwork and camaraderie overcame the aches and pains that comes with a group of dads trying to squeeze in as much riding as possible while balancing family life responsibilities.
- The Tour de Gatineau “Special Edition” was a hardcore 103km struggle against both the gradient of the Pink’s Lake climb and some nasty cold and wet inclement fall weather (although the sun peaked out a wee bit to remind us of it’s ever-presence behind the clouds). The determined crew overcame those obstacles — with the added motivation of sweets and coffee at Les Saisons in Chelsea. Everyone in the group managed to finish in the overall top 10 of the “Pink x 10” Strava segment … even the soon to be 50 year-old. One rider even claimed the “King of the Mountain” (KOM) crown for the top time in the city!
- The biggest challenge facing the “Rishikof Family Tour de Crème Glacée” was deciding which favoured ice cream stops would make the final list.
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