A West Vancouver woman is 17 days into a 65-day cross-continent motorcycle journey that will take her to 10 provinces and 48 states.
While Lori Losch, 42, is excited about the scenery and people she'll encounter as part of the 30,000-kilometre journey, she's more excited about the prospect of raising funds and awareness for cancer prevention.
The Answer for Cancer Tour 2011 left Vancouver June 11. Today, its four riders are scheduled to travel from Rapid City, S.D. to Denver, Colo.
Losch, who works in real estate, is a professional speaker as well is a mobile app developer, has been a motorcycle enthusiast for the last 10 years. As cancer has played a large role in her life as of late, she viewed the tour as the perfect opportunity to do something she loves, as well as serve a greater purpose.
"Cancer has been in my world since 2008 basically, when both my parents were diagnosed," said Losch, in an interview prior to leaving the North Shore. "They're both well, thank God -- early detection and successful treatments and whatnot -- but that launched me into the world of cancer."
Over the last three years she's been back and forth between Canada and the United States due to where her husband, who she married in December 2010, is based. When she visited, she wasn't able to work due to immigration laws, so opted to volunteer. She connected with an organization called Lotsa Helping Hands and volunteered at various hospitals in Phoenix, Ariz., sitting with cancer patients as they underwent chemotherapy treatments.
"That was really where I saw firsthand how horrible the disease was, but even more so, I saw how little education there was in the system about nutrition and lifestyle choices and whatnot to really reduce the length of treatments and just to better your quality of life," she said.
The Answer for Cancer Tour is partnered with and will benefit Canada's Prevent Cancer Now, whose mission is to eliminate preventable causes of cancer, and the Breast Cancer Fund, a United States organization working to eliminate environmental and other preventable causes of breast cancer.
"When the opportunity came up to do this awareness ride, I was all over it," said Losch.
For the ride, she's joined by two friends, Vancouver's Jason Bosa and Port Coquitlam's Del Ferguson, as well as Arizona naturopathic doctor Christina Tondora. As they travel, they'll engage with local media, host cancer prevention education events and will be supported by volunteers and representatives of the two partner organizations.
"A big part of it is the information and then the second part is raising funds for those two beneficiaries. Ideally, we'd raise half a million for each one," said Losch.
Losch is an experienced endurance athlete, having climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as rider. A member of the Iron Butt Association, she's the only woman to have completed the SaddleSore 1000 on a CBR.
"That was definitely an endurance ride," she said.
However, the Answer for Cancer Tour is definitely her longest journey to date.
"I've done lots of two-week trips on bikes where you've got heavy days back to back, but definitely nothing that's 65 days of riding every day but one a week. This is definitely a new adventure," she said.
In addition to connecting with the riders when they pass through various communities at public events, as well as making donations, members of the public are encouraged to join the tour for portions of the ride.
"I am most looking forward to seeing people grab hold of the (prevention) message, that's one thing," said Losch. "I really love it when they get it and start to see, 'Oh my gosh, that is a change I can make.'"
The riders are scheduled to return home Aug. 13.
For more information, visit www.answerforcancertour.com.