Erin and Cory Keeler participated in The Big Spin, raising money for the Children’s Cancer Fund at Kingston General Hospital, on behalf of their daughter Megan, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 8. (Steph Crosier/The Whig-Standard)
Before his eight-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer, Cory Keeler admits he didn’t participate in a lot of fundraising events. So as he and his wife Erin participated in The Big Spin on Saturday, they were blown away by the generosity and support.
“It’s overwhelming,” he said during the ride as Erin took her turn on the bike.
The eight-hour cycling marathon, which took place at Apex Indoor Cycling, raised more than $34,400 for the Children’s Cancer Fund at Kingston General Hospital. The fund provides families with financial support for expenses not covered by the government or workplaces.
The Keelers’ daughter, Megan, now nine, was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in late 2014. Cory Keeler said the cancerous tumour attached and grew at the back of Megan’s throat. Keeler, a teacher, said doctors at first thought Megan’s swollen face and neck was due to a blocked salivary gland. However, as the tumour continued to grow, he and Erin, a nurse, knew something wasn’t right.
After they took Megan to the Hotel Dieu emergency room, an ultrasound showed a tumour growing behind her mouth and into her cranial space
“Immediately the ball started rolling and we were essentially admitted into the hospital right then,” Cory Keeler said. “It was three days of pretty intense tests, then she started chemo a couple of days after that.”
Megan also underwent two months of radiation at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa.
“Her treatment really tore her down,” Keeler said. “There were days we didn’t think we were going to get through that part of the treatment, let alone get us to where we are now.”
Last December, Megan’s final test was clear. Keeler said maintaining regular day-to-day life for Megan and her brother Evan would not have been possible without the Children’s Cancer Fund.
“Money became a big issue,” Keeler said. “Wondering how we were going to be able to afford for daily life and some of the things associated with treating a cancer. Then we started looking for the funding available, and the Kingston Children’s Cancer Fund was there for us.
“So seeing people in here today donating to the fund that directly helped us is amazing.”
Among other things, the fund helped the Keelers pay for a tutor to teach Megan while she was too fragile to go to school. Keeler said Megan is back at school full time, her hair is growing back and she is regaining her energy.
Keeler wanted to thank the people who came out to support the fund.
“It’s one thing for us to come out, because we know how necessary and how important the fund is, and we’ve benefited from it,” Keeler said. “But for all those people who haven’t experienced how important it is, or don’t know how much families go through, for them to come out and give their time, it just means the world to myself, my wife, and other families, too.”
The Big Spin was organized by Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation with all proceeds going to the Children’s Cancer Fund. To learn more, go to coasttocoastagainstcancer.org.
Donations are still being accepted for the Kingston event. Go to apexbigspin.theinsideride.com to contribute.