Riding for a breast cancer cure
by Rhonda Cooper
Meadow Lake was day six of the Prairie Women on Snowmobiles’ 10-day trek across Saskatchewan. Mission 2012 started in Humboldt, wound its way south to Broadview, east to Langenburg before heading back north via Preeceville, Christopher Lake and Chitek Lake to Meadow Lake.
In the pack of 10 core riders rode Meadow Lake’s Andrea Lehoux, who has experienced firsthand the roller coaster of emotions that comes with the ride.
“One day you are in the room with seven survivors and the next day there are none,” she said. “You don’t know whether to be happy or sad. You’re up and then down. There really are no words to describe the amount of emotion you experience.”
Lehoux is a first-year rider but has helped and supported other Meadow Lake PWOS riders.
“Carrie (Puetz) told me it would change me,” she said. “I knew it would but now I get it. You really have to experience it.”
Lehoux noted every night the riders’ speeches have changed. “You always find someone new to inspire you. I started out riding for my mom, who is a 15-year breast cancer survivor and my sisters. But now
I am riding not only for my family but also for all the other people as well. They really touch you.”
While all the stories have impacted Lehoux, there are two she said really put things into perspective for her. One was from a lady in Fort Qu’Appelle who had a brain tumour that went into remission and has returned. The obstacles this woman is facing had the entire group in tears. In Wynyard, a four-year survivor recalled how six of her immediate family were diagnosed with cancer and all of them have succumbed to the disease. She and her two grandchildren are the only ones remaining. Lehoux marvelled at the woman’s positive outlook.
Each of the riders had different reasons for participating in Mission 2012 but the common theme was the desire to see the end of breast cancer so no more grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, granddaughters or girl friends would have to die from the disease.
Typically the riders would log approximately 1,600 km on their sleds during the ride but Saskatchewan’s unusually warm winter has seen the women spend more time in the van on Saskatchewan roadways.
“Day one the ladies rode from Humboldt to Lanigan,” said PWOS secretary Donna Kirk. “We then trailered to Fort Qu’Appelle. Day two was all trailering and then on day three we trailered to Kamsack. The girls rode from Kamsack to Canora and then we trailered to Kelvington where we unloaded and rode to Preeceville.”
Snow conditions allowed the women to ride all of days four, five and six to Meadow Lake. The last two days of the mission from Meadow Lake to North Battleford onto Warman, the final stop of the tour the snowmobiles would be on the trailer.
“We hope the girls are able to ride into Warman for the final banquet,” said Kirk.
Although fewer miles were logged on the sleds, the time spent riding in the 15-passenger van allowed the women to get to know each another very quickly and form strong bonds. Core rider Rosalie
Venderbuhs best summed it up at the Meadow Lake banquet saying, “I have a wonderful family at home, but now I have a wonderful family across Saskatchewan.”
For Lehoux she is looking forward to riding again, but not next year. “You can only ride two years and I want to spread it out a bit. What a journey it is. I would recommend it to everyone. It is something everyone should do.”