Simon Ward is participating in the Cycle Classic this Saturday the 18th, riding 100k whilst undergoing his second round of chemotherapy for stage 3 Bowel Cancer.
After being diagnosed late last year with no family history and only stomach pain as his symptoms, Simon's message is pretty clear:
"I want people to be aware of cancer risk factors and symptoms. I want people to seek expert advice if they feel something isn't right. I want people to keep seeking advice until they are satisfied."
Before the Cycle Classic, we caught up with Simon, who currently lives in Lucas with his family...
You have a background in Cycling, is that correct?
Yes, I've been riding consistently for the last 10 years or so. I took my cycling quite seriously for a number of years and used to race and train a lot. In recent times cycling has become something to help keep me fit and healthy while providing a good social outlet at the same time. It's currently a great way for me to escape from the daily grind of treatment.
What made you want to take part in the Cycle Classic, especially at a time that your body must be pushed to its limits with the Chemotherapy?
My participation is not about the bike ride itself. The event provides a timely and relevant platform to use my experience as an example to others that cancer doesn't discriminate; it impacts people of all ages, stages of life and levels of health. I hope that my experience resonates with people at an event such as the Ballarat Cycle Classic and highlights the need and value of cancer research to in turn raise some additional money.
There are some good tracks and trails to tackle on a bike or on foot in Lucas do you have a favourite?
My wife Sam and I use the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail most days of the week; usually with our dog Frank. It's very handy that it now links up to the back of the estate. When feeling more adventurous it links up well with some nice trails and fire roads out towards Smythesdale which can be ridden on a mountain bike or gravel bike.
You have done extremely well raising funds for the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute as part of the Cycle Classic and you are currently heading towards your goal of $10,000 and you are the top individual fundraiser. What does the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute and the work that they do mean to you?
I was lucky enough to have Jason Kelly who is a researcher at FECRI provide me with a tour of their labs and explain a lot about what they are trying to achieve. To see their work first-hand was really inspiring and provided me with a lot of hope that breakthroughs in cancer treatment are not that far away. I think that as Ballarat people we should be really proud of the work they are doing in our town and its potential to change the lives of people all over the globe.
Why should people donate?
FECRI relies on community support for its funding. The more money is raised the more they are able to do. It might mean they are able to fund additional research or purchase new equipment which could make all the difference in their research. Cancer touches most people in one way or another and donating to FECRI might help to eradicate the disease and benefit you or your loved ones inthe future.
For more info, visit Ballarat Cycle Classic