From Nuclear Medicine technologist to educator to patient, Louise Rimanic has seen every side of a cancer patient’s journey.
Louise has a long list of friends, family, and coworkers who have had cancer. Her first experience with the disease was when she was only 18 years old and a student in BCIT’s Nuclear Medicine program. Louise’s father was diagnosed with stomach cancer and passed away just as she was graduating and beginning her career in a profession dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases, including cancer.
On April 5, 2014, after a routine mammogram, Louise herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I had no lumps or bumps, no family history. I didn’t smoke or drink and led a relatively healthy lifestyle – I couldn’t possibly have cancer, right? Wrong.” A biopsy confirmed that Louise had Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. While Louise claims her journey was relatively easy compared to other peoples’ she endured numerous treatments including a lumpectomy, radiation therapy and tamoxifen, and then four years later, a second lumpectomy.
For the fourth year in a row, Louise is using her experiences with cancer as motivation to complete the 220 km Ride to Conquer Cancer.
“The Ride to Conquer Cancer is one of the best metaphors for a cancer survivor’s journey. Whoever thought this up is a genius. You have moments of pain and agony when you’re not sure you can continue, times when you are crying, times when you crest that hill and you think you’re in the clear only to spot another hill up ahead. You think you can’t do it but you remember who you’re doing it for and you can’t give up. The joy you feel in crossing the finish line with all your family and friends cheering for you is an amazing experience.”
Cycling 220km may seem like a daunting task but all levels of riders, all fitness levels, and a widespan of ages, participate in the ride each year. It’s about commitment, not fitness level. Because the ride is not a race, riders support each other and motivate each other along the way.
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One of the things Louise appreciates most about the Ride to Conquer Cancer are the stories of how fundraising from the ride has had a direct impact on patients. The Ride to Conquer Cancer funds clinical trials, new drugs, and new equipment needed in our province. After 16 years working in Nuclear Medicine at BC Children’s Hospital and over 20 years teaching in BCIT’s Nuclear Medicine program, Louise has seen many advances in diagnosis and treatment that are directly funded by efforts like the Ride to Conquer Cancer.
The first day of this year’s ride concludes in Chilliwack. That night all riders join for a dinner where they get to hear guest speakers share their cancer survival stories and how they have benefitted from new treatments made possible by the Ride to Conquer Cancer’s fundraising. Louise says “there is nothing better than to see and hear firsthand where your money is going and to actually hear that thanks from patients.”
Two thousand riders participated in last year’s Ride to Conquer Cancer, raising a collective $8.3 million for the BC Cancer Foundation. For more information on Louise and her fundraising please see her Ride to Conquer Cancer page.