Samantha Ireland, an Oakville resident, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. Samantha’s first thoughts were of her daughter, and of how she would go about telling her daughter of the diagnosis. The medical oncologist suggested Samantha reach out to Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation for help and support. Wellspring is a network of community-based support centres offering professionally-led cancer support programs and services to anyone living with cancer and their loved ones, free of charge.
While still in treatment, Samantha began participating in the Breast Cancer Support group at Wellspring Birmingham Gilgan House in Oakville. “I was 37 years old at the time,” says Samantha. “At Wellspring, I was able to meet a group of ladies that helped me realize I wasn’t alone in this journey.” Every Wednesday, Samantha would drive herself to Wellspring. “It was the only time I went out,” says Samantha. “It was comforting. The group would help me know what I could expect, and answered all the questions I had to ask. I looked forward to it every week.”
During that time, Samantha’s husband Troy had left his job and with newfound time on his hands, he bought a road bike to try something new. Samantha told him about a Wellspring fundraiser called the Peloton Challenge, in which 30 cyclists ride their bikes, relay style, for 7 days and nights to some fun and far off destination. Samantha presented the idea to Troy. “I was more voluntold,” says Troy. With only 60 km under his belt from his brand new road bike, Troy signed up for the challenge. On top of the physical commitment, each rider has to raise $10,000 for Wellspring. “Sam was the brains behind the fundraising,” says Troy. “Our family and friends stepped up to help us reach our $10,000 fundraising goal because they all wanted to find a way to help and support Samantha.”
Samantha was the motivating factor for Troy’s participation. He nominated her to become a Wellspring Warrior; someone to serve as a reminder and constant inspiration for the riders and volunteers throughout their journey.
Arriving in Austin, Texas at the end of the 3,000 km ride was a highlight that won’t soon be forgotten. “Seeing Samantha at the finish line, tied the entire experience together for me,” says Troy. “Watching Sam go through her cancer journey was difficult, and I wanted to support her and somehow fix it,” says Troy. “Being part of this ride was my way to do that. It was also one of the most fantastic things I have personally done in my life. It surpassed all my expectations.”
Now as Chair of the Wellspring Ride for Cancer Support committee, Troy is training for his sixth Wellspring Peloton Challenge, this time to Las Vegas, Nevada in September. Samantha remains by his side as a member of the organizing committee. When asked what keeps him coming back, Troy says, “It’s a different adventure every time and the core outcome is that we also get to raise money for Wellspring, which in turn helps so many people.”
If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about this adventure of a lifetime, please visit www.wellspring.ca/2018challenge.