By Shelley McLean
Special to Ontario Construction News
Sitting side by side, it’s not hard to realize the tight bond between Robert Noseworthy and his daughter, Julianne. They laugh, finish each other’s sentences and joke with one another.
It’s a family bond, which runs deep.
Robert is a cancer survivor and not a day goes by that he doesn’t appreciate each moment he’s had to share with his two children, who are now full grown.
On Oct. 21, 1988, Robert was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia—a childhood leukemia. He was living in Montreal at the time with his young family, including Julianne, who was two years old and his infant son, David.
His prognosis was grim. “I was given a 13 per cent chance of survival with six months to live. My doctor in Montreal said it was very unusual for a 30 year old to have a childhood leukemia.”
And so, the cancer journey began for this father of two. It would include numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments and then he was in remission but the journey didn’t end there. “In March 1989, I received a bone marrow transplant from my sister, who was a six on six match.”
Thanks to that match, Robert beat the odds. He gives full credit to cancer research as the reason for being here today and he never forgets that. In fact, that’s what attracted him to THE RIDE. “That is “my why”. I do my small part and ride to raise funds for cancer research.”
Giving back has been important to Robert, the owner of Westerra Homes in Kemptville. He first learned of THE RIDE, through Robert Merkley, one of his suppliers, who inspired him to participate six years ago; he’s never looked back. It’s also been important to him to instill that in his children as they grew up. “I received all this help and now it’s time to give back.”
Indeed, you can see Julianne takes great pride in that lesson from her father and she marvels at his strength. “He’s been an inspiration. Not just from a medical standpoint or as a role model, father and friend but being able to complete 120 km at his age, especially after everything he has gone through. I hope that I can do the same thing one day.”
THE RIDE Noseworthy tradition continues. The first two participants to register for the 2019 edition of THE RIDE, were this father daughter duo. They make it a full family weekend. They drop off their bikes on Saturday and then head to a restaurant for a pasta dinner and gear up for the early morning start on Sunday.
Julianne says they love the experience and year five will be no different. “The encouragement you get from everyone around and volunteers is just phenomenal. I always get teary when we start and teary when we end, as they announce him as a cancer survivor. We wouldn’t be able to do that or accomplish that without that research.”
As a cancer survivor, Robert says THE RIDE is very meaningful to him, especially when he meets other cyclists who are flying the survivor flag on their bikes like him. “Only a cancer survivor knows what a cancer survivor has gone through. If you haven’t been through it, to be told you have the big “c” is ….it’s unique.”
He adds the survivor flag is a bond that brings this special group together. “When I’m on THE RIDE and I see other survivors, I’m patting them on the back and saying good job, I’m glad you’re here. Congratulations. This survivor flag means a lot to me.”
For Julianne, THE RIDE is about family. It’s about giving back as a family to The Ottawa Hospital and advancing research. “Family is the word that sums it up quite nicely for us. We are close and we like to do these kind of things together and support each other. If it wasn’t for cancer research and everything my dad had been through we wouldn’t be the family that we are today.”
Glancing over at her father, with a smile, Julianne says, “My why is you.”
Celebrate the 10th edition of THE RIDE, powered by Mattamy Homes, and find your reason why. #DOTHERIDE
Shelley McLean is a communications officer with The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.