BY TIM KIKKERT
(Photo: Bob Kikkert)
IN July of 2001 my dad’s (Bob Kikkert) doctor saw a jump in his PSA from 4.0 to 7.34. He underwent a biopsy at Cornwall General Hospital where one sample showed prostate cancer. The urologist in Cornwall, ON, where he lives, wanted to do a prostatectomy and my dad disagreed with this radical approach. So, he educated himself on this disease and sought out other treatment options. After meeting with a radiation oncologist at the Ottawa Cancer Centre, he decided to undergo brachytherapy. Following this procedure his oncologist noticed that some of the radioactive seeds had shifted and he additionally proposed external beam radiation treatments as a precaution. My dad had to go back to the Cancer Centre for 21 days of radiation therapy. During the entire process he continued to do his gym workouts and carry on as if nothing was wrong. As a result, he did not experience any side effects during treatment or any after effects. He has remained cancer free for almost 12 years and continues to exercise regularly and has completely changed his diet to avoid foods that can potentially increase the risk for a recurrence.
When my dad called me to tell me his diagnosis I was initially shocked and worried. But as the news sunk in and I did some research on prostate cancer, which was harder to come by back in 2001, I started to believe that my dad could beat this. I knew he was in good health, had educated himself in treatment alternatives, had a positive attitude and had caught the cancer early (thanks to the PSA test). At the time I was married and had two wonderful daughters aged 3 and 5. What struck me in our next family visit with my parents was how “invisible” this disease was during the course of his treatment. You would not have been able to tell that there was any problem.
Due to his battle with this disease and through his love of motorcycles, my dad began participating in the Ottawa, ON “Ride for Dad” in 2005 and has every year since.
I am now in my fourth year participating in the “Westcoast Motorcycle Ride to Live” (www.vancouver.ridetolive.ca ) and have worked hard to raise funds each year (the ride is on May 25 this year). To date, I have managed to raise over $20,000 due to the very generous contributions from my awesome family, friends and colleagues at work. The ride isn’t until the end of May each year, but I start out with my efforts at the end of February. I imagine I’m one of the first people to sign up. Although I say I “worked hard,” I can’t really say that this is work for me. I send out emails at least every two weeks to update my donors, potential donors and supporters. It has been a lot of fun interacting with all those people each year, raising awareness about this cancer and best of all, hearing about their stories and experiences in their families with prostate and other cancers. What amazes me is just how prevalent a disease it is when you start the conversation with so many people. I don’t just send out generic emails. I tell my stories, provide pictures of rides, information on prostate cancer and where the funds go from my efforts (with “Westcoast Motorcycle Ride to Live” everything I raise goes directly to cancer research and cancer related information, which is a real motivator for my donors).
I like to tell everyone that we are a team. There is no way I could do this alone and we are all mutually succeeding in helping to better treat, educate and hopefully eradicate this cancer through the funds we raise. Best of all, my donors come up with clever ideas on how to spur each other on. For instance, odd dollar amounts are donated and donors are challenged to even the total out, then make it odd again, etc., which has resulted in some people donating multiple times in the same year. I also update them on other ride participant totals and that motivates us to donate more and stay in the top position. We have been the top fundraisers each year I have participated and I have been presented with numerous merchandize prizes from sponsors. I have used some of these prizes to raffle off to donors in subsequent years (to motivate) and I have sold the rest and donated the money to the cause. Everything I do is translated back into cash donations. There is no better feeling than to watch the total amount increase with each email I send out. I personally respond to each donor and thank them for their generous contribution and support. My personal fundraising site is at ($5006.00 as of April 19): http://www.gifttool.com/athon/MyFundraisingPage?ID=1852&AID=2585&PID=407538
For the past two years my dad and I have been planning a father-son motorcycle ride along the old Route 66, the “Mother Highway” that extends from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA. We will be doing this ride, the brainchild and dream of my dad (who will be turning 70 this year), from May 18th until June 20th. He will be riding from Cornwall, ON and me from Langley, BC where we will meet in Chicago, IL and set out together. Our journey will take us through several states to California, where we will then drive back up the West Coast Highway to my home. My dad will then drive back across Canada. This will be a 12,000+ km ride. In preparation, Vancouver BMW-Ducati has been really supportive in helping me to ensure my motorcycle is in excellent condition to drive this kind of distance and I am confident that I will be well looked after. We have also become members of the only Canadian Route 66 Association which is actually based out of Langley and they have provided us with a wealth of information to help us with our planning. You can visit them to learn more at http://www.route66.ca/
Since our ride will take place in the same time of year as our prostate cancer rides, I suggested to my dad that we tie our trip to our fundraising efforts this year and he enthusiastically agreed. We have reached out to the executives of our rides and they have been amazingly supportive and will be providing us with information that we can hand out on our trip to educate more men about this disease and why we are riding. I have also established a Facebook page, “Timbob Kikkert”, and we are encouraging everyone we can to friend that page and follow us on our journey. I will be sharing our experiences with stories and pictures on a daily basis. This has been of real interest to our supporters this year and we are hopeful that it not only helps to educate more people, but that we are able to raise more funds than in previous years.