Paramedic Jenna Cook is taking up road cycling for the first time to help in the fight against cancer and as a tribute to her late brother Richie.
The Auckland resident will cycle 200km over two days in November to raise money for research in memory of Richie who was diagnosed with secondary melanoma of the brain in December 2010 and died seven months later, aged 31.
Richie left behind a wife and a three-month-old son.
Thirty-year-old Cook will be among the hundreds taking part in the second annual Ride to Conquer Cancer, which last year raised $2.1 million for the Auckland Cancer Society.
The course starts in Remuera, with the promise of plenty of beautiful scenery to take in along the way.
Cook is inspired by her older brother, who was always testing himself.
"He had one of those go-getter type personalities. He loved a challenge and that's part of why I wanted to sign up - he would have loved doing something like this."
The St John intensive care paramedic has met many cancer patients in her job and says it's a disease that affects far too many people.
"Many of us have had a loved one that has been affected by cancer, or there might be a diagnosis just around the corner."
The New Zealand Cancer Society says about 51 people are diagnosed every day.
That's why Cook believes the ride is as much about awareness as it is about raising money.
"Cancer is not age specific - it can affect any one of us, at any time. I have seen the effects of cancer and what it does to families, what it does to patients."
She says it has taken her brother's young family a long time to recover.
"Richie is certainly a very missed young man. People often still talk about their happy memories with him. Fortunately he packed more into his 31 years than many do in 80 years on this planet."
Cook is aiming to raise $5000, which will go directly towards supporting ground-breaking research and clinical trials at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre.
"If it was me about to face cancer, I would want to know that as much research as possible has gone into finding a cure for it," she says.
"But cancer research is not cheap."
- Eastern Courier
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