Team Nuuchahnulth rides to conquer cancer

By Shauna Lewis, June 7, 2011

Lance Ambrose lost his battle with cancer on June 20.  Services for Lance will be held on Thursday, June 23 @ 7:00pm  – Memorial at the Chapel of Memories with a funeral held on Friday, June 24 at 11:00am – Funeral at the Alberni Athletic Hall.

Port Alberni — 

Update:

Lance Ambrose lost his battle with cancer on June 20.  Services for Lance will be held on Thursday, June 23 @ 7:00pm  – Memorial at the Chapel of Memories with a funeral held on Friday, June 24 at 11:00am – Funeral at the Alberni Athletic Hall.

Nuu-chah-nulth community members and friends are gearing up this month to raise funds and increase awareness of the devastating effects of cancer in First Nation communities.

The Nuu-chah-nulth Ride to Conquer Cancer bike team will join others in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, a unique 200 km two-day cycling event taking place June 18 and June 19.

The ride is a fundraising event benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation. The funds raised remain in B.C. and benefit cancer patients across the province.

Riding with the Nuu-chah-nulthteam are Curtis Dick, Lorraine Mundy, Priscilla Sabbas-Watts, Marg Vedova, Jeannine Lindsay and team captain Melody Charlie.

This will be Charlie’s second year participating in the ride.

Last year she dedicated her journey to an uncle who lost his battle with cancer.

“Last year I wanted to do something to honour my uncle and his life and his fight and how he lived his life,” Charlie explained. “It was a very emotional ride,” she said.

Charlie said people must “take the negative and turn it into a positive [and] be a part of [spreading messages of] education and prevention.”

“I feel more people need to be working on health and doing positive things,” she said. “If someone in your family has cancer, choose to be involved.”

“It’s about them,” she continued, pointing to the many cancer fighters and survivors in her community.

Lance Ambrose of Ehattesaht is one of those fighters.

The 38-year-old father of five was diagnosed with stomach cancer last fall.

Ambrose said he is pleased that the Nuu-chah-nulth team will ride this year and says he would have joined them if he was healthier.

“I think it’s a very good opportunity to educate our people of what cancer is, about their diet and about being careful in the sun,” he said of the event.

“I took things for granted when I was healthy,” he added.

Ambrose just completed his third round of chemotherapy, but was recently taken off his medication due to dosage complications. He hopes doctors will find alternative treatments for him.

“I have my good days and my bad days, he said quietly.

For Ambrose, family support and a good mental and spiritual outlook is the ammunition he needs to battle cancer.

“First and foremost you have to be positive and have a good support group around you and pray every day,” he said.

A strong and positive outlook is also the glue that’s holding Nuu-chah-nulth team participant Jeannine Lindsay’s family together.

The 28-year-old single mother’s world changed forever on Feb. 7, 2010 when her two-year-old son Gabriel was diagnosed with leukemia.

Gabriel Callicum, now three, travels to the Vancouver Children’s Hospital four times a year for invasive chemotherapy treatments.

“It’s been rough but we’re adapting to the situation, Lindsay said courageously.

“The main reason I’m riding is for Gabriel,” she said.

“I’m so proud to be riding with Team Nuuchahnulth. Coming from an Aboriginal community it’s so nice to be able to show our support,” she said.

Gabriel biological father’s family is from Gold River. Lindsay and Gabriel now live in Comox, but prior to having Gabriel, Lindsay lived in Ucluelet.

“I’ve become very close with the [Nuu-chah-nulth] community and with Melody Charlie,” she explained, adding that she knows of many people in First Nation communities that have been ravaged by the disease.

“It [cancer] is not something that’s widely talked about,” she said. “It’s not something that a lot of people have knowledge about. But it’s something that affects a lot of people.”

“The [Nuu-chah-nulth] community is so close-knit that when someone is sick everybody is affected,” she added.

“It’s really good to get the knowledge out there.”

Each rider on the team is hoping to raise $2,500. For Lindsay, the funds will go directly to childhood cancer research.

She said that while her son’s leukemia is not preventable, other cancers are and people must do what they can to prevent the ugly disease, starting with adopting a healthy diet.

“We’re moving into fast foods and a lifestyle where we don’t have time to prepare healthy foods,” she explains, adding that the high cost of eating healthy is another problem faced in many communities.

“It’s a life of convenience,” she acknowledges. “And it affects every generation from here on in,” she says.

Lindsay has been taking steps to ensure a healthy life, explaining that her family’s diet consists primarily of organic fruits and vegetables.

“My advice is to be healthy mentally, physically and emotionally. With a good attitude and positive healthy living “anything can happen,” she said. “You can fight anything. You can beat anything.”

For the last three months Gabriel has been in remission. But along with trips to Children’s Hospital he continues to visits the Comox hospital monthly for rounds of intravenous chemotherapy and has a strict daily pill regimen.

Gabriel will continue to receive treatments at Vancouver Children’s Hospital until May 2013 and, if he remains in remission, he will be given the all-clear from doctors.

“There’s still a chance of relapse,” Lindsay said quietly. “But we have to think positively that we are eventually going to see him graduate.”

To date Team Nuuchahnulth has raised over $1,500. The group’s goal is to raise $18,000 for cancer research.

To show support, join the Facebook group: Ride to Conquer Cancer Team Nuuchahnulth.

For more information and to donate to Team Nuuchahnulth go to  www.conquercancer.ca.