All You Have to Do is Ride!

More than 10 years after being successfully treated for childhood leukaemia, Samuel Stephens joined the Children’s Cancer Foundation team to compete in this year’s Murray to Moyne 24-hour cycle relay.

He covered more than 300 km to raise funds to help the next generation of patients.

Samuel was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when he was 18 months old. He is now a fit and active 16 year old and decided to follow the example of his father and his oncologist and join the Children’s Cancer Foundation ‘Cytotoxic Cyclists’ team in the annual event.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to be involved with, and give back to, the Children’s Cancer Foundation who do so much to help families and patients going through a similar situation to what my family and I went through,” said Samuel.

During the weekend event staged at the beginning of April, he cycled 311km. The relay course goes from Echuca to Port Fairy and the Children’s Cancer Foundation has entered a team every year for the past 21 years to raise money.

Samuel’s interest in participating intensified after he completed a work experience placement in the oncology department at The Royal Children’s Hospital, where he got to see how the funds raised by the charity are used.

“After doing work experience, I got a real look at what the Foundation really does for patients,” he said.

“The work they do with children and their families is fantastic and they always provide support to those who need it.”

Samuel raised $3,185 through the event making a major contribution to the total of $50,000 raised by the ‘Cytotoxic Cyclists’ team for the Children's Cancer Foundation this year.

“It is important, especially in my case, to give back to organisations like the Children’s Cancer Foundation who have helped many people through very difficult times,” said Samuel.

“They provide a stress-free environment where children can go to distract themselves from the treatment and the illness they are going through. They give children a welcome relief from the difficult times."

A particular highlight for Samuel was cycling alongside Dr Peter Downie, the oncologist who first treated him at The Royal Children's Hospital. Dr Downie, who now leads the Monash Children’s Cancer Centre, cycles in the relay every year.

“Riding with my oncologist, Peter Downie, was great,” said Samuel.

“I only see him once every year for my annual check up, and he was an incredibly important person in my life when I was going through treatment. He helped me get through everything and stay calm and happy.

“Dr Downie is much more than my oncologist. I look forward to seeing him and I remember how I always felt great support and comfort from the nurses and especially Dr Downie.”

The 2018 ‘Cytotoxic Cyclists’ team consisted of 20 cyclists and 10 support crew. The team is made up of staff, patients and families from The Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Children’s Hospital, plus their friends. Samuel’s father Liam has taken part in the event in previous years and was a support crew member this year.  

Samuel says there was great friendship and support among all the participants in the ride.

“I met a lot of really great people who helped and encouraged me during the ride. I definitely wouldn’t have ridden as far without them,” he said.

“It also gave me the opportunity to come out of my shell a bit and interact with people older than me who have been impacted by cancer at some point in their lives.”

The Foundation is looking to recruit new cyclists and support crew volunteers for next year and Samuel said it is a great experience.

“I would recommend participating in the relay to anyone who feels fit and healthy and would like to help raise money for the Children’s Cancer Foundation. All you have to do is ride!"

“I was aiming to ride over 300 kilometres and was really excited when I knew I had achieved that. Riding through the finishing line I had a great sense of achievement. Riding with a team who all had a common goal of raising funds for kids like me was pretty special."

Donate to Samuel’s fundraising page here

Thank you Samuel for sharing your story with the Children's Cancer Foundation.

Samuel Stephens