Valerie Nontell

Rider

Nickname: 

RIGRAT

Age: 

58

Hometown: 

Calgary, Alberta

Occupation: 

Petroleum Engineering Consultant

What is your bike's name?: 

I refer to my bike as "You f#cking piece of sh#t!" (subject to change)

What is your level of experience with cycling?: 

Beginner

How many years have you done the peloton ride?: 

This is my first Peloton ride.

Why are you riding in the peloton?: 

I am riding to inspire other cancer survivors, and to raise awareness of the issues we had when trying to "get back on our feet" after treatments. The healing did not end with the doctors cutting us loose, it continued and continues for long afterwards. People need to realize that just because we are out of the hospital does not mean that we are completely "healed". Family and friends and even strangers need to know that there are psychological traumas that go along with the diagnosis. How can we be kinder to our fellow humans? By helping them to understand that having cancer is not like having the flu, it is a life long disease.

What are your top 5 inspirational songs you listen to while riding?: 

I can't listen to music when I ride because it is too distracting. But, if I could, the songs would be more with keeping up the cadence as opposed to inspirational. My favouites would be: Miley Cyrus - The Climb (OK, this one is inspirational), Jiminy Cricket - When You Wish Upon a Star (OK, this one too), Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful World (OK, enough with the inspirational stuff!), Nickleback - Burn It To the Ground, Rascal Flatts - Life is a Highway, Led Zeppelin - Black Dog.

Who are you riding for?: 

For all of the people that require the services that Wellspring provides.

What do you hope to get out of the experience this year?: 

I guess a sense of belonging (to what though?) and camaraderie with fellow riders in that we are all pedaling to raise awareness of the non-medical issues that folks have while undergoing or after going through cancer treatment.

What are you looking forward to most?: 

Finishing the ride with no more bruises or broken bones. LOL. Really, I am looking forward to the camaraderie of the Peloton and sharing stories and the reasons why we are riding. I also am looking forward to meeting people on the way, sharing life experiences with them, and encouraging them to carry on no matter what life hands them.

What is your biggest fear for this journey?: 

Hills. Going down them is great. Riding up them - not so much. Or falling off of my bike. Or running into something stationary. Really, I am afraid of letting my team down or not being able to finish the ride. I am afraid of disappointing myself.

How have you been affected by cancer?: 

It turned my life around. I found out that I was not the bullet proof gal I thought I was. I used to be a "Type A" person, but now I am definitely not obsessive/compulsive about anything. I learned to slow down and realize that life is way too short to take anything seriously. It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to really appreciate what life has to offer. I appreciate every day more and more and take glory in Mother Nature's beauty.

If you have cancer, what is your diagnosis?: 

I am in remission YEE HAW!! I had acute myelogenous leukemia - twice.

What treatments have you undergone?: 

When first diagnosed, I spent 5 months in the Tom Baker Cancer Centre tied to an IV twenty four hours a day for seven days a week. It was also at that time that I found out that hospital food was penance for something I had done wrong in a past life. When I relapsed 19 months later, I spent another month in the hospital undergoing killer chemo and then had a stem cell transplant. Less than 1 month later I was released.

If cancer walked into the room, what would you say to it?: 

F**k off, you are NOT welcome here!

What makes you pedal harder—(when the riding gets tough, what do you think about)?: 

I think about the people who cannot ride because of their own situations. When I think of how I have come through the cancer experience, I gratefully tackle the tough bits because they are not as tough as going through treatments was. If I could get through cancer - twice - I can surely get through the ride to Lewiston.

Tell Your Friends!