Cancer has affected almost everyone.
“We all know someone who’s gone through it, or have gone through it ourselves and we can all be a support system for each other.”
That’s the message Alexandra Vallée is sharing, and she’s going the extra mile to spread it.
Or an extra 40 km, to be exact.
Alexandra Vallée is from Vancouver Island. She grew up in Nanaimo with her father, Michel Vallée. He was a true Island man.
“He was one of those guys that was just always out. He was a forester. So he’s always out in the woods. Always doing stuff, he had a million lives,” Alexandra recalled.
But last year, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
“To see someone that was so active all of a sudden just kind of get overwhelmed by this disease was a big wake-up call,” she said.
This is what spurred Alexandra to join the Tour de Cure. Before her father’s diagnosis, cancer seemed like a far-off reality to her.
“It didn’t even really occur to me that that this was such a big pandemic in itself until it hit so close to home.”
When her father was diagnosed, she wanted to do something to help.
She had heard about Tour de Cure from a friend whose father was also fighting the disease. Already an avid cyclist, she jumped at the chance to be part of it.
“It’s still a big kind of therapy for me,” she said
Her dad was there to cheer her on last year. But, tragically, he died from the disease after a fast deterioration last January.
Vallée followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the forestry sector herself. In his absence, the VanIsle forestry community has stepped up as earthside cheerleaders on her journey.
“The majority of my support came from my superiors and my peers, they’ve been absolutely amazing. It’s a very tight-knit industry. Almost more like a family.”
Her father will be there in spirit as she maps her own route from their old hometown to her new home in Cumberland.
Vallée is choosing to do her ride here at home rather than in the Fraser Valley with other participants.
And she’ll be adding a few extra km.
The Tour de Cure is 160km. But on August 27th, Vallée will ride closer to 200 km—all the way from Nanaimo to Cumberland and back again.
She knows her dad will be watching her from Paradise Meadows. It’s one of his favourite spots on VanIsle and where Vallée says a part of his spirit will always stay.
She’ll continue to fundraise till August 27th, the day of her ride. She says she’s been overwhelmed by the level of support and companionship she’s received by sharing her father’s story.
“Every time I post something on social media I get so many people messaging me with their own stories. People that I had no idea had gone through it, or have had a parent or a loved one go through it, reaching out and giving their support. I think that is pretty amazing,” she said of the online community.
The Tour de Cure is all about telling—and changing—cancer stories.
If you’d like to tell your own story, visit the Tour de Cure homepage.