Marika and Simone van Reeuwyk, have joined forces to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a two-day cycle from Vancouver to Seattle. The following story was written by the Agassiz-raised twins and can also be found on the Ride’s website. To support the twins in their ride, visit www.conquercancer.ca.
Hi everyone, our names are Marika and Simone van Reeuwyk. Some of you may know us from when our dad owned the local bakery that was in town until 2006, Kent Pastry & Bakery. This year we have decided to take on the challenge of participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer — a two-day bike ride from Vancouver to Seattle to raise money for cancer research, education and treatment. Neither of us have ever done this long of a ride before, let alone any large fundraiser, and we are far from avid cyclists. But by participating in this ride, we’ve decided to take a step out of our comfort zone to do something that will make an impact on cancer, in return for the impact cancer has had on our lives. So to show you just why this ride is so important to us, here’s our story:
Our mother passed away when we were very young. Being only four at the time, we only have a few memories of her that we can recall off hand. One of the most significant ones we have was on a visit to Singapore to see our relatives. Things were looking up for our mom at that point, as her original tumor had been removed and the doctors said it was likely it would not return. This is one memory we both remember vividly- we were holding her hands on either side, while walking through the markets in Singapore. As any four year old would be, we were incredibly curious in this new place, and would stop every few seconds to inspect these fascinating ferns that curled up with the touch of a finger… in our minds we cal recall the humid air on our skin, the bright, colorful patterned shorts we were all sporting, and our mom’s glowing smile. That was a happy time, but it was when we came back from that trip that we found out the tumor in her liver had in fact returned- to a terminal state.
On September 1, 1994, our mom, Diana, lost her two year battle with liver cancer.
Our mother was a smart and mindful woman – since she knew she wouldn’t be there to watch us grow up, she left us lots to remember her by. She put together photo albums, home videos, even recorded cassette tapes of us talking with her, and we couldn’t be more grateful for them. Though we only got the chance to know her for four years, we often hear from the people, especially while we worked in the bakery, how she touched their lives and what a charming, vibrant and personable woman she was. Our dad always says she loved everyone she met, and everyone she met loved her right back. A little while ago we were looking through some old mementos, and came across a box. Inside, we found a stack of documents from the hospital, covering the details of her diagnosis and hospital procedures. Reading them for the first time was so refreshing- it finally gave us a clear understanding of what went on those 17 years ago. Along with it were many get well soon cards she received, from almost everyone we knew from our childhood, and many more people whose lives she had impacted. We had known that there were many people that supported us through those years, but reading all of their kind words was really heartwarming.
Several years after our mother passed away, another family close to us was also faced with the hardships of cancer, losing their father to a brain tumor. we remember Mark as being a cheerful, kind man who was easy to talk to and always willing to lend a helping hand. Mark losing his battle to cancer was another tragedy to hit our community, and the relatedness of our situations inevitably brought our two families closer than ever. Our parents formed a strong bond, and in time, got married and brought us a brand new brother the following year. Now we proud to be members of the van Reeuwyk/Bridgefoot clan- we are a unique and talented bunch; all nine of us! We also have a wonderful sister-in-law and a brand new baby niece, both who we love dearly. Though we’ve been through a lot together, our family members are all awesome and inspiring people, and we wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
Cancer has also affected so many other people in our lives that we will never forget. Along with our mother and Mark we are also riding this race in memory of our Grandpas, our Uncle Cordell, and our dear friend Sheldon, to name a few.
Every individual in this world has a one in three chance of developing cancer in their lifetime, and the prevalence of this devastating disease continues to rise. We all know someone who is impacted by cancer, so we need to do our part and contribute to finding the cure. Growing up without a parent is tough, let alone losing any loved one to cancer. That’s why we are teaming up and doing this together — to provide you with the opportunity to contribute and make a difference that truly means something in this world.
So, please, donate today. Your money will go directly to the BC Cancer Foundation, supporting clinicians, scientists and researchers in the fight for a world that is free of cancer. Their search for new discoveries and improved patient outcomes will have a real impact in communities throughout the province, across Canada and around the world. We still have a very long way to go before race day a few weeks from now, so we’ll need all the help we can get. Thank you all in advance for your support in this challenge!