Kudos to RCMP Staff Sergeant Egan

Many Yukoners are aware of the plight of Ilja Sawatzky. For the past year and a half, this three-year-old Whitehorse boy has battled anaplastic…

Many Yukoners are aware of the plight of Ilja Sawatzky.

For the past year and a half, this three-year-old Whitehorse boy has battled anaplastic medulloblastoma.

This cancer originates with tumours in the brain, and is found mainly in children.

Right now, Ilja is winning his battle — and he, and the approximately 1,300 Canadian kids who develop cancer every year, have more reasons for hope than ever.

That’s because major advances in treatment have meant that death rates for childhood cancers have dropped more than 50 per cent since the early 1950s.

Such advances result from research, paid for by those who believe that every child deserves a future.

In Whitehorse, hope is appearing in a new form. We at the Canadian Cancer Society office in Whitehorse are proud to announce that RCMP Staff Sergeant Pat Egan has stepped up to take part in one of our major fundraisers for kids with cancer: the Cops for Cancer Tour de North.

The Tour de North is an epic, annual cycling event, involving 25 RCMP officers, a paramedic and one news reporter, from far-flung communities throughout central and northern BC.

From September 5th to 11th, they’ll cycle more than 826 kilometres from Prince George to Prince Rupert, B.C.

Egan will be joining the tour — and by doing so, he’ll bring a Yukon presence to it for the first time.

We congratulate him for honouring the RCMP, the Canadian Cancer Society, and kids with cancer. He, and every other officer on the tour, has committed to some serious physical training and fundraising.

Egan is bound to be affected by the experience of Cops for Cancer Tour de North. Picture the visual spectacle: a long line of cyclists bearing RCMP and Canadian Cancer Society colours, flanked by support vehicles with flashing police lights.

As it rolls through each community along the tour route, riders are warmly welcomed with ceremonies, community fundraisers, media attention and generous donations.

Such emotional encounters between tour participants and spectators never fail to drive home the key point — it takes a community to fight cancer.

It takes caring communities, like Whitehorse, supporting committed cops, like Egan, to ensure that inspirational kids, like Ilja, actually get a future.

The Tour de North is one of four Cops for Cancer tours organized annually by the BC and Yukon Division of the Canadian Cancer Society.

The others take place in Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and on Vancouver Island — different locations, different riders, but all share this feature: once they and the media have wrapped up and gone home, the dollars raised keep helping BC and Yukon kids with cancer.

In 2007, the four Cops for Cancer Tours in BC raised $3.2 million for pediatric cancer research and programs for children with cancer and their families. These programs include Camp Goodtimes, the Society’s acclaimed free summer camp in Maple Ridge, BC.

The camp provides medically supervised recreational experiences with added social, emotional, and physical support for children with cancer and their families.

Also funded is free transportation service to and from cancer-related medical appointments for patients undergoing cancer treatment — an important service for northern cancer patients receiving treatment away from home.

There is a toll-free Cancer Information Service (1 (888) 939-3333) that provides current, reliable and free information on all cancers, access to community resources, and referrals to support services.

The society maintains a website (www.cancer.ca), and distributes brochures covering a range of cancer topics.

Efforts have been made to enact public policies that make healthy choices, easier choices — such as tobacco-free sports zones, improved nutrition and increased physical activity in schools.

I would like to invite all Yukon residents to support Staff Sergeant Pat Egan in the challenge he’s embraced.

Attend his fundraiser, August 28th at 12 p.m. in the Elijah Smith building, organize a fundraiser of your own, or donate online to Egan’s campaign through the Canadian Cancer Society website.

Visit www.cancer.ca and follow links to B.C./Yukon, Cops for Cancer and find Pat Egan’s name under Sponsor a Rider.

Help us make cancer history for kids.

Scott Kent is Yukon regional manager for the Canadian Cancer Society.