In April of 2014, Maureen Kaake heard the words no one ever wants to hear – “You have cancer.”
As someone who watched both her parents pass away from cancer, the part Kaake dreaded most was telling her family and friends about her diagnosis, especially because it was not the first time her loved ones had been through a cancer journey.
More than 20 years earlier, in 1993, Kaake was diagnosed with the early stages of cervical cancer. Her treatment process went better than expected.
“It just took a surgery to deal with it. There were no other forms of treatment required,” said the Mission resident.
However, for her second bout with cancer, Kaake’s treatment would not be so simple. She spent the entire summer of 2014 undergoing many procedures.
“I had five chemo treatments and 33 radiation treatments,” she said.
Despite the heavy dose of treatments, Kaake said it really didn’t impact her too severely.
“I didn’t find it that difficult for myself. It was the difficulties bestowed upon my friends and family around me – that’s what I was most concerned about,” she said.
She was able to focus all of her energy on her treatment and on getting well.
One difficulty she did experience was that her taste buds were altered.
“The only thing I could stomach was lemonade and Eggo waffles. I couldn’t eat any thing else because nothing tasted right.”
Kaake doesn’t like to refer to herself as a two-time survivor, because she doesn’t believe she has earned that due to the “easy” time she had with the first bout of cancer.
But she said she has earned the survivor title for her second bout.
“It has changed me forever and a lot of it is for the better and some of it, not so much,” she said.
With her cancer in remission, Kaake now has follow-up appointments every three months at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre.
She is also busy training for a special bike ride.
After treatment one day, Kaake came across an advertisement for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation. She immediately knew the two-day, 200-kilometre cycling journey throughout Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest was something she had to do.
“I did the ride last year. I signed up while I was in the middle of treatment, so I blame the chemo for it,” she said.
The ride was completely out of her comfort zone as she hadn’t been on a bike since she was a teenager, but Kaake was determined to do it.
“I had to buy everything – a bike, a helmet, everything.”
Her experience on the ride was “great.”
“I really spent the majority of my ride riding solo, but the support that you get along the way from other riders is amazing.”
Cancer survivors who participate in the ride get a large yellow flag to place on their bikes. She said when other riders see that, they cheer you on and yell support.
“Short of being a mom, that was the single, most greatest experience I ever had.”
Kaake is doing the ride again this year and this time she’s going to be better prepared. Kaake has purchased a new bike and a cycle trainer and has been training hard.
“I’ll be ready to go.”
The Ride to Conquer Cancer takes place on Aug. 27 and 28. Anyone interested in participating or donating can visit conquercancer.ca for more information or call one of the Ride Guides at 1-888-771-2453 with any additional questions.