Wednesday, June 5, Joan Thompson, 63, along with her partner and support person, Ken Flagel, stopped by the Observer office to share the story behind the Ride for Sheila Rae & You.
Six months ago, Thompson’s sister, Sheila Rae passed away at the tender age of 59 after three years, two surgeries and chemotherapy to treat her non-responsive stage 3 ovarian cancer.
Ovarian Cancer is one of the below the belt cancers, and perhaps because of that, it is a silent killer. Research into this type of cancer is lagging about 50 years behind that of other cancers and Thompson wants to do everything she can to bring awareness to the need for more research to find a screening test to ensure early detection and alternate treatments. Raising personal awareness and stimulating public action has led to talks in campgrounds and anywhere there is an interested audience.
When asked why a bike ride across Canada, Thompson stated that she loved to ride her bike and after a 30-year hiatus, she decided to get back in the saddle, so to speak, to raise funds for this valuable research. According to Ovarian Cancer Canada, no one has ridden across Canada for this cause, so Thompson undertook a month-long ride through the Pamir Mountains in Central Asia to gear up for the next adventure. After more than two months riding, she can safely say that the Rockies were not nearly the challenge of her previous route. The trip originated in Vancouver, taking advantage of the prevailing winds, and they have followed the Red Coat Trail since Pincher Creek, heading for #2 highway in Manitoba and then along the TransCanada highway for the rest of the trip.
The stop in Carlyle has special meaning to the couple from Christina Lake BC. A friend of theirs, British Columbia artist Beverly Reid nee Williams, was raised here and they were collecting pictures and items to take back to her. The Williams family owned a hardware store and Carlyle resident, Wimp (Ralph) Lothian tells me would have been located just north of the Observer building.
After a visit to the Rusty Relics Museum, an overnight stay in the Lions Park Campground and a stop at the Carlyle Bakery for some famous cinnamon buns the couple were on their way with a simple request - Print the signs of Ovarian cancer and the Facebook link.
Signs of ovarian cancer include bloating; abdominal discomfort; difficulty eating and change in urinary habits. Speak to your doctor if you notice new symptoms that persist for three weeks or longer.
The Facebook link is @OvarianCancerRide.