The patch Marc Gosselin wears when he rides his Harley Davidson serves as a tribute to his father.
And he’ll don the vest with that patch at this Sunday’s Ride to Live, which will see hundreds of bikers take part in a poker run ending at the UFV site in Abbotsford.
Ed Gosselin was diagnosed with prostate cancer when he was 60, and died seven years later, in 2009. He had been more tired than usual, but he chalked it up to aging. He had been going for the suggested blood test screenings, called a PSA test, and nothing unusual was reported back to him.
But something unusual was happening, and by the time he was diagnosed the cancer had moved outside of the prostate. And while some trial treatments helped slow the disease’s progress, it was too aggressive to stop.
Gosselin says it was a “comedy of errors” that turned into a tragedy.
“Nobody phoned and said anything, and he assumed no news was good news,” he says of his late father. While his father’s situation was unfortunate, he was doing everything right. The annual screening is as simple as a blood test, and the results give a man’s family a baseline to go on in subsequent years.
Gosselin, 46, will be thinking about his father during the Ride to Live on Sunday, but he thinks of his father often. He has become an advocate for prostate cancer awareness. So, not only is he a rider at the annual event, he is involved with the Raymond James Walk Run for Prostate Cancer as well, held on Father’s Day. He’s on the organizing committees for both events, and serves as the vice chair of the Chilliwack Prostate Cancer support group. Known as the Blue Walkers, the group promotes awareness and healthy living while providing each other support and information.
And this year, Gosselin was named to the board of directors for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of B.C.
The support group here in Chilliwack, where Gosselin lives, is doing great work to connect men who have been through prostate cancer treatment, or are newly diagnosed.
“The group has a good 10 guys that I regularly walk with every Wednesday,” he says, adding that walking is one of the best things a man can do to prevent prostate cancer. He’s also been diligent in making sure he goes for the PSA screening.
B.C. is the only province where the screening isn’t free. Each test costs $15, or even $30 at a private clinic. While to some it may seem a small price to pay for good health, for others it’s a barrier to getting screened. But it doesn’t have to be.
Members of the support group are encouraged to bring in their annual receipts, to be reimbursed by the group. Even new members are invited to come for a meeting or a walk, and bring along their receipts.
The whole point is to get men talking about prostate health, Gosselin says. He wants it to be as talked about as breast cancer among women. The rates are currently one in every eight Canadian men, down from a previous estimate of one in every six men. He attributes the decrease, at least in part, to opening up communication about the potentially deadly disease.
But much like breast cancer, early detection is the key, before the cancer spreads to other parts of the body.
“Early detection gets you more options,” Gosselin says. “You don’t want people living in fear, and I don’t really ever think of it because you can’t spend your whole life worrying.”
For those who do end up with prostate cancer, there is hope for a cure yet. Proceeds from this Sunday’s Ride to Live and the upcoming Walk Run go toward research efforts taking place here in B.C.
Gosselin says the funds all stay within the province, and is proud to be volunteering with an organization that strives to keep their overhead low.
“The goal of the board is to be a grassroots foundation,” he says, and adds that kudos must go to the executive director, Leah Lariviere.
She’s worked tirelessly to make the events coming up a success, he says.
The Ride to Live is two separate events that come together to celebrate as one large group, Gosselin explains. One ride begins in Vancouver and works its way to Mission Raceway and then the UFV Abbotsford campus. The Fraser Valley Ride to Live begins at the Mountainview Harley Davidson in Chilliwack, stopping at Chances Gaming Centre, the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Agassiz, and heading along Highway 7 to the Mission Raceway to meet up with the Vancouver Ride to Live riders before heading to the UFV. Each stop is a card pickup location for the accompanying Poker Run, just one of the draws of the event.
There’s also live music by Sweet Max, a show ‘n’ shine, and a classic car show.
Typically the Ride to Live raises about $250,000 annually, while the Walk Run raises about $300,000. For more information on both events, how to register, and more information on prostate cancer and research, visit www.ridetolive.ca, phone 604-574-5100, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.