“The love of my life,” says Kate Siena of her road bike before adding quickly, “Don’t tell my husband.”
In May 2013, Siena was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She was scheduled for a double mastectomy. Later, however, doctors found a spot on Siena’s liver. A biopsy revealed an incurable form of cancer. Siena was given a two to five years to live.
During chemotherapy, daily mountain bike rides on a nearby trail became her added therapy. She started averaging roughly 40 km every other day. Later, she met a woman at wedding shower who told Siena that she had to do the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Siena was skeptical. “She tried to convince me I could do it,” Siena said. “I felt I was nowhere near that [level of fitness].” Siena, however, felt she needed to do more with cycling.
She took her mountain bike to the road where she met her first hills. “They nearly killed me, but I fell in love with them,” she added as she’s mastered the gearing for drumlins around her home roads of Peterborough, Ont.
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In 2015, the now 46-year-old mother of two rode in her first Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. She plans to be back for her third Ride in 2017.
Siena is one of the first people in Peterborough to use a drug called Perjeta, which shrunk the tumour in her liver by 50 per cent. Now, this tumour is gone. As the recipient of a new form of cancer treatment, Siena really connects with the Ride’s mandate to raise money for cancer research.
Today, Siena still needs treatment. It’s every three weeks for the rest of her life. “I often joke that I have this huge pit of despair, that’s fully furnished. But I don’t spend time there because I can just grab my bike and immediately have relief from that oppressive feeling from this ongoing treatment,” she said.
“Being in the green trees and the blue sky and the sunshine, I had moments of pure euphoria, which is incredible because I’m in treatment for cancer,” Siena said. “There was incredible healing for me. So, the fact that I’ve responded so well to treatment and feel fantastic is attributable to cycling. Cycling’s done it.”
To register for the 2017 Ride to Conquer Cancer, visit conquercancer.ca