The 2011 Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock is scheduled to roll through the Comox Valley on Sept. 28.
But it paid a surprise, early visit to a local couple on July 17.
One of the 22 cyclists on the fundraising tour is Victoria police constable Alvin Deo, who is married to the daughter of Mike and Louise Jackson of Courtenay.
“We knew (the team) had a practice ride going up Mount Washington on Sunday,” said Louise, adding their son-in-law (who was in town with his wife and three children) had indicated the riders would probably use the Jackson’s house on Comox Avenue after the ride to change clothes before heading to Crown Isle for lunch.
What the Jacksons weren’t prepared for was the entire team to show up in full Tour de Rock uniforms and do a ride-by in honour of Mike, who was diagnosed with cancer this spring.
“After they came back from Mount Washington they assembled in our street. They started at our house, went to the end of the street, came back in formation to the other end of the street, then came back and parked their bikes,” said Louise.
“Then every single one of them introduced him or herself to my husband and wished him well. We felt honoured and were in awe.”
She said that while the Tour de Rock team has been practising since February-March, her son-in-law took his training to another level after learning Mike had been diagnosed with lung cancer in April.
Mike shared his wife’s appreciation of the ride-by.
“It was truly amazing – for them and for me. They’ve all devoted themselves because they can only do (the ride) once in their life. They all have a reason to do it. For them the ultimate is to meet people who have cancer,” he said.
“It was an incredible experience for all of us. For me, I was totally overwhelmed. When they were changing at the house the girls were razzing the boys because it was taking them longer to get changed. One of the boys was the last, and they asked him if he’d pencilled his eyebrows,” Mike recalled with a chuckle.
Among the stories shared on Sunday, Mike learned one of the riders’ sister had just developed small-cell lung cancer, the same as himself.
“It’s a very fast-growing lung cancer, but it is receptive to chemo. I was very lucky; by the time we found it all my specialists didn’t think I had a chance. They felt the chemo would never catch up. I fooled them all,” Mike said.
“I’m extremely positive. I’ve never let anything get me down, and I won’t,” added Mike, who turned 70 in June.
Along with the uplifting Tour de Rock visit, St. Joseph’s General Hospital has also helped Mike maintain his positive outlook.
“I should tell you how excellent the nursing care for me has been at St. Joe’s. It’s been absolutely outstanding at every level. I had horrendous complications and they were amazing.”
Mike has been to St. Joe’s for three chemo treatments and has one more to go. He and Louise will follow the Tour de Rock closely, and when it’s over they will celebrate by getting the family together for a three-day stay at Tigh-Na-Mara Resort and Spa in Parksville.
The Tour de Rock, which raises funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research and programs, begins Sept. 24 in Port Alice and ends Oct. 7 in Victoria. Deo’s goal is to raise $15,000, and Mike urges people to donate to the cause by calling 250-592-2244 or visiting www.copsforcancer.ca.