October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and one local is urging men and women to get themselves to the doctor.
“The symptoms aren’t always there,” says St. Albert resident Mike Fehr, who lost his sister to breast cancer in 2012. “So it’s important to get checked and take care of yourself.”
His sister, Melissa, passed away at 38 years old after being diagnosed with stage-four cancer.
“She was very genuine, very caring, very strong and very courageous. She’s the type of person that if she asked you how you were doing, she really wanted to hear the answer,” he says. “It’s still a process. I think about her daily, I miss her every day.”
Holding his coffee, Fehr smiles as he recalls growing up on the farm with his sister in Saskatchewan. He says he remembers his sister as a strong-willed girl who wasn’t afraid to put him in line if she had to.
The two were close growing up, living together for few years after high school.
Melissa moved to Lacombe after getting married, and Fehr soon made his own trip to Alberta after being employed in Edmonton around 12 years ago.
“We lived only about an hour away, so we saw each other about once a month,” he says.
In 2011 his sister was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer. The devastating news had Fehr searching for ways to help his sister and raise awareness.
Not long afterwards he heard about Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer and says he decided to sign up. As Fehr came to the end of the 200-kilometre ride in 2011, his sister was waiting for him at the finish line.
In 2012 Melissa went into remission and decided she wanted to join Fehr in the next ride. It was only a few short months into the new year when she received the devastating news that the cancer was back and had aggressively spread to her liver and one of her lungs.
She passed away a few short months later.
Now to honour her memory, each year Fehr latches his bike onto his car, places his gear into his trunk and drives to Calgary to participate in the ride.
“I promised her that as long as I can, that I would ride,” he says. “I’m sticking with my word.”
Last year his team, comprised of 14 members, raised $43,000. Since starting the ride Fehr has raised almost $150,000.
In August he participated in his seventh ride. He says this month he’s warning people to get themselves checked, as symptoms aren’t always prominent.
Myka Osinchuk, the CEO of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, says funds raised by the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer go towards technology, treatment, equipment and advocacy.
“Riders like Mike Fehr are agents of change,” she says in an email. “With Breast Cancer Awareness Month set for October, we are humbled to have Mike’s support, as he raises funds in his sister’s memory and to support others living with the disease.”