August 18th, 2017

Lethbridge father paying it back with Ride to Conquer Cancer


By Mabell, Dave on August 12, 2017.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

It’s the second ride for Lucas Friel, but he’s sure it won’t be his last.

The Lethbridge man is taking part in this weekend’s Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, a two-day cycling journey through the foothills west of Calgary.

Friel, a father of four, began raising support for his first fundraising ride just months after a Lethbridge surgeon removed a cancerous kidney. A routine physical exam had led to a cancer diagnosis in the summer of 2015.

“I was very lucky,” he says today.

His annual doctor’s appointment included imaging, which indicated a possible abnormality.

Further tests showed a growth that could be malignant, and surgery was scheduled for November. After six weeks of recovery, Friel was declared cancer-free.

It was the early diagnosis and quick response that made the difference, he says.

“Not many people get that kind of luck,” he says.

It’s Albertans’ support for cancer research and treatment that made it possible, Friel believes.

“I feel I have to pay it back.”

So along with thousands more, he raised $2,500 or more to earn an entry into this year’s 230-kilometre journey, starting early today at Canada Olympic Park. The proceeds stay in Alberta, he points out, in support of research, clinical trials, the discovery of new therapies and enhanced care for Albertans battling some form of cancer.

Some of this weekend’s riders are still in treatment, he notes. Others are family members or friends.

“The ride really helps people stay positive,” he says.

Event organizers provide plenty of support, Friel says. If there’s a mechanical breakdown – or a rider becomes too exhausted to continue – there’s shuttle service to the next pit stop or rest area.

“There’s food, water and medical care,” and, of course, washrooms.

The event also has its cheerleaders, encouraging riders to reach the next rest stop.

But it also receives support from people who live or travel along the route, Friel reports.

“I’m really surprised at the amount of support from the public,” he admits. “It’s really inspiring.”

And it could demonstrate how many Albertans’ lives have been touched by cancer. An estimated 18,600 Albertans will receive a cancer diagnosis this year, health officials say, and about 6,800 of this year’s deaths will be attributed to some form of the disease.

As for Friel, he says he’s spending more time with his children since his near miss. And he’s switched to a job he finds more enjoyable.

“It’s like a second life.”

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