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Alberta man once given 5% chance of survival to cycle 1,500 km to Vancouver

Funds raised will be donated to the SickKids Foundation
Bone will be leaving on his cycling journey to Vancouver on Aug. 1, and estimates he’ll arrive in three weeks’ time. He says he has some supporters who plan to join him for stretches of the ride, and is hoping to have a group ride into downtown Vancouver with him at the end. (Richard Bone/Contributed to Black Press Media)

On December 19, 2012, Richard Bone heard a sentence most people hope to never encounter – words he would go onto hear seven more times in his life.

“You have cancer.”

In 2013, doctors discovered four inoperable lymph node tumours in Bone’s heart. The Ponoka man was told there was a five per cent chance of making it past one year.

Ten years later, he’s still fighting – living his life by the mantra: ‘I may have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me.’

Bone grew up in the 1970s, and like many adults today spent much of his childhood outside, biking around during the day with expectations to return home by the time the streetlights came on.

“If you wanted to get around, you hopped on your bike and got around,” he said.

“I never had a video game. The first Atari? My dad said ‘no, not on my television,’ so it was outside. Go fishing, go to the beach, get out.”

Today, he’s using his love for cycling towards both a personal and global cause, taking part in the Great Cycling Challenge.

He first set to participate in 2021, but was unable to finish his goal due to health reasons. He’s participated yearly since, but has yet to fully complete his set goals.

This year, he told Black Press Media in a phone interview he’s just going to go for it. So far he’s raised $3,189 out of his $5,000 goal, all donations earmarked for SickKids, organization that focuses on healthcare for children in Canada.

The challenge works by registering online and then tracking kilometers with an app. Distance can be clocked either on a stationary bike or out on the road all throughout the month of August. Ride goals are completely up to the participant, and they do not have to be hit in one single ride. All kilometers will count as long as they’re logged between Aug. 1 to 30.

Bone is planning to cycle from Canmore to Vancouver, or roughly 1,500 kilometres. His final destination is the Terry Fox memorial at BC Place, and he expects to take approximately three weeks to arrive.

Though most may not associate an almost annual tradition of cancer diagnoses with motivation, Bone has been doing his best to live his life as much as he can. One of his biggest motivators is his granddaughter.

“One of the things that got to me was that I didn’t have any granddkids, I was only 42. In 2016, our granddaughter was born. So then it became ‘I have to see her first birthday’, and that it became ‘I have to be there for her first day of school’, and it just goes on,” he said.

“My little bug, I call her. She came home from the hospital in a little ladybug onesie. She’s a big reason to keep going, to see her next stage of life.”

His wife has also been a source of motivation and support, and he said he wants to stick around to make sure she can enjoy some of her retirement, and share some of that time with her.

Bone’s advice to anyone who may be starting out in the position he was in back in 2012 is to try and stay positive as much as possible, and to remember to take care.

“Don’t focus on the negative, look forward to tomorrow. Take naps when you need to nap, and don’t be afraid to ask for help,” he said.

“Go live your life. You’re not dead until you’re dead.”