LOSING a loved one to cancer is difficult. For West Vancouver police Const. Glenn Marshall, losing a father and father-in-law to this disease has been both a source of pain and motivation.
"I had signed on to ride the tour before my father was diagnosed with cancer," said Marshall, who will be part of a Canadian Cancer Society's Cops for Cancer bicycle tour this September. "His passing has motivated me even more to commit to helping (to prevent) kids and their families from knowing that pain."
Marshall will be among more than 30 riders taking part in the Tour de Coast - one of four Cops for Cancer tours designed to raise money for childhood cancer research and programs for kids and the families of kids affected by cancer. Two other local officers will be joining him: RCMP Const. Corey Abendroth and WVPD Const. Griffin Gillan
"I am very blessed to have two wonderful healthy children and I can't image if anything happened to them," said Marshall. "I feel so deeply for any parent that has to endure this disease with their child; I am hoping to help support a cure."
Cops and emergency service personnel will travel 900 kilometres from Coquitlam to Powell River, Pemberton and back to Maple Ridge, finishing at the Creekside Community Recreation Centre on Sept. 27. The nine-day tour kicks off Sept. 19 with the starting line celebration taking place at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown in Burnaby.
Although this will be his first ride, Marshall heard about the fundraising event eight years ago when he became a member of the police force.
"I knew it was something I would do at some point in my career," the Squamish resident recalls. "I was further motivated to sign on because every year we would go to the dinner when the tour would roll through town. Just hearing the amazing stories of the riders and the kids was more than enough motivation."
The society is celebrating 15 years of successful Cops for Cancer Tours in British Columbia this year.
Since 1997, Cops for Cancer has raised more than $27-million for childhood cancer research and support programs for children and their families, including Camp Goodtimes, a society-run summer camp at Loon Lake in Maple Ridge.
Shivani Malli, community giving co-ordinator with the Tour de Coast, said, "This year not only marks 15 years of celebrating our supportive communities, sponsors and agencies, but also our team and wonderful support crew, who spend several months training and fundraising.
"These dedicated men and women continue to inspire me with their generosity, drive and passion and without them the tour would not exist. This is my first year on Tour and I cannot wait until the journey begins."
Marshall made it through the pain of losing loved ones to cancer by connecting with his family.
"From my immediate family to my extended family, we have all been there for one another to deal with our collective loss. The sense of loss is different for each one of us, so we just fumble though it together and it helps to know none of us are going though this alone."
To others affected by this disease, Marshall offers the following advice: "Know that you are never alone and that no matter what you are feeling it is all right. People deal with things in their own way and the grieving process is just that, it takes time. Celebrate the lives of those you may have lost and remember the good times."
Marshall will be holding a fundraising dinner in Squamish on Saturday. He has already raised almost $5,000 and is hoping to reach his goal of $6,000 with the support of the community.
The West Vancouver community is invited to greet all of the riders and their support team as they arrive at the West Vancouver Police Department on Monday, Sept. 24 at 10 a.m. Later, there will be a barbecue lunch from 11: 30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Civic Plaza, 141 West 14th St., North Vancouver.
For more information about the Tour de Coast, upcoming events and how to donate, visit the Cops for Cancer website at www.copsforcancerbc.ca and click on Tour de Coast.
Sarah Ripplinger is a freelance writer and editor. She is currently interning with the Canadian Cancer Society. www.sarahripplinger.com