2 days. 200 Kilometres. 1 epic ride.
Participating in the Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer has been described as one of the more ‘fun, exhilarating and rewarding’ ways to help fight cancer—a disease which will affect one-in-two Australians.
It’s also the way most likely to result in a ridiculously bruised and sore butt and a feeling of great satisfaction.
But the prospect of waddling around with a bruised arse won’t stop Everton Park’s Di Long, who happens to be my second cousin and is, without doubt, one of the best women I know; she’s vibrant, funny, smart, honest, genuine, an amazing mother, a loyal friend and a kick-arse athlete.
She’s also 61.
In August, Di will click on her cleats, slap on her helmet and set off with co-rider and friend, Judi, and massage therapist and fellow breast cancer survivor, Emiilia, to raise vital funds towards cancer research at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane.
QIMR Berghofer researchers are investigating the causes of more than 13 cancers including skin, brain, colorectal, breast, ovarian, lung and lymphoma.
Di and Judi—who will ride as part of Team Logan City—hope to raise $5000 between them.
“While the research end is getting better and researchers are finding more ways to treat the disease, the ‘why am I getting it?’ bit—the beginning—isn’t getting better. The stats are actually getting worse,” Di said.
“This is our chance to do something for the cause.”
Tackling the ride isn’t the first big sporting endeavour for Di—last year she captained the Australian Auroras Dragon Boat team to gold at the World Championships in Hungary. She’s also competed in the State and National championships for Dragon Boat Paddling.
“I started paddling in April 2008 to support my friend Trish who was recovering from breast cancer—she wanted to give it a go because it was on her bucket list so we both joined and I got into it quite seriously,” Di said.
The duo joined the Brisbane River Dragons and also became involved with Dragons Abreast Brisbane—a group of breast cancer survivors and supporters who race under the team name, Missabittatitti (also known as MBT).
Dragon Boat Paddling has long been considered a good recovery sport for women who had breast cancer and the movement around the arm can minimise post-surgery symptoms including lymphoedema.
After returning from the World Championships in Hungary, Di went for her routine mammogram and ultrasound which revealed a lump in her breast.
“Thankfully, it was caught at an early stage so I was pretty lucky really in that respect—and that was just because I have an annual check-up and because I always pay extra to have an ultrasound, even though I don’t have a family history of breast cancer,” she said.
“I’m surprised at the number of women who do not have an annual mammogram, let alone an ultrasound.”
In 2011, breast cancer was the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Australian women, accounting for 15.6 per cent of all cancer deaths in women. — Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
“Suddenly, I went from being a breast cancer supporter to a survivor,” Di said, although she shrugs off the term ‘survivor’.
“You do what you have to do to get through it.”
For Di, that meant a lumpectomy followed by a course of therapy. Then it was back to life as usual.
“When the Ride to Conquer Cancer came up, my friend Judi suggested we do the ride and raise money for the cause,” she said.
The pair will be part of a convoy of riders who cover 200km in two days, starting with an Opening Ceremony at The University of Queensland campus at 6.30am on Saturday, August 16, and finishing at The University of Queensland in the afternoon of Sunday 17 August.
“I’m not much of a cyclist; I rode a bike as a child and fell off and broke my arm, so things are looking good,” she laughed.
“But I have always been sporty and do pretty well at whatever I put my hand too, so this was just a new challenge.
“I shouted myself a nice bike and after that first ride, I went to the shop real quick to get the proper padded pants that look like a nappy,” she joked.
To donate to Di’s fundraising efforts, click here. Go on, do it … think how good it will feel!