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Matthew Thiessen

Name: Matthew Thiessen

Age: 32

Occupation: Physiotherapist, Children’s Hospital

Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Family: Married to Heidi

Your biggest physical accomplishments to date: Mantario Hiking Trail in 16 hours

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Giving Back…Creating Hope

Cycling is something I’ve always enjoyed; whether it was cruising around the neighborhood on my red single speed when I was 5, delivering papers on my BMX or buying my first mountain bike.  A couple years ago, I got started in duathlons.  My love for road cycling was born. 

I am a survivor of pediatric cancer. I was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma shortly before my first birthday and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. I’ve been cancer-free for 31 years. I don’t remember my treatments, but they were very difficult for my parents. I returned yearly to Cancer Care Manitoba for a blood-test and check-up till I was 18, and was always worried and anxious about these visits (as I’m sure my parents were). I knew that I’d had cancer, but didn’t start to understand the significance until I was in my teens.

As I became an adult I began to realize how truly fortunate I was. I began to look back on those hospital visits as an important continuation of my journey, not as the scary inconvenience they were to me as a little boy. And I wanted to be able to give something back. I felt extremely grateful for the care I’d received, but couldn’t find a meaningful way to give back.

Then I heard about SNKCR ’08. I saw a brochure one day in our department at the Children’s Hospital for the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride. I read: “Destination: Beyond Cancer” and “Supporting kids living with and beyond cancer”. I love cycling and immediately felt a powerful connection.

I was hooked! Elated! This pulled at my deepest emotions!

There was an option for a 25km loop ride-along. The ride was only a week away so I quickly signed up that day along with one of my colleagues. Highlights were meeting the national riders and hearing their personal stories.  In 2009 I signed up for the 100km ride-along as soon as registration opened. It was a tough gusty ride, but it was great! After the ride I applied to be a national rider in 2010. I’m incredibly honored to have been selected to be part of this event.

This is my way of giving back for all the excellent treatment and care I received from the cancer team.

This is why I ride. I want to show families fighting cancer that there is hope. I want to remind others that we can beat cancer.

So that when parents hear “your kid has cancer” they can still have hope.
So that one day all kids who have cancer can be long-term survivors.
So that kids can be kids.

“Once you choose hope, anything is possible.  -Christopher Reeve”