Let’s knock out cancer and find a cure, says Scarborough cancer fighter

Jason Ettorre and Raul Pavon both live in Scarborough, both enjoy biking, and both have seen people around them suffer from cancer. They have now accepted the challenge to fight this deadly disease.

This June, the two men will participate in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, a two-day cycling event from Toronto to Niagara Falls. 

Ettorre and Pavon are not alone, and will be united with thousands of others on the journey to conquer cancer.

“[Participants] either know somebody who’s been affected by cancer or they have survived cancer [themselves] will be participating,” Pavon said.

“There are lots of cancer patients who did not make it and [will] be in our memories on this ride.”

Pavon said cancer does not discriminate, and anyone could develop the disease. 

According to Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011, 40 per cent of women and 45 per cent of men will develop cancer during their lifetimes across Canada.

Pavon’s mother survived breast cancer a few times and his wife had skin cancer. Ettorre also sees cancer-related suffering among his family and friends. He said it troubled him when he saw cancer take his colleague’s life at a young age. 

“It was too much for me,” he said.  

After seeing enough suffering, Ettorre and Pavon are now devoted to fighting it.

For me, it’s to never give up, always keep fighting.

— Raul Pavon

The 200-kilometre journey, however, is not the only challenge they face. Each rider must raise $2,500 or more before the event in order to participate.

According to conquercancer.ca, proceeds will go towards The Princess Margaret Hospital to provide care for cancer patients and to support research initiatives for cancer therapies.

Pavon said, though, that it has not always been easy to ask people for money.

“People keep saying ‘oh yes, let me know when you are ready so I can fill out the donation form and I can contribute.’ When you ask, [they say] ‘oh right now isn’t a good time,’ ” he said.

Ettorre also struggled to achieve his fundraising goal.

“I expected a certain amount from requests, a certain amount from night school and a certain amount from hockey pools, fundraising parties and dinners,” Ettorre said. “But you don’t really achieve as much as you think you are going to achieve. And then you are scrambling.”

Despite the obstacles, Pavon said giving up is not an option.

“A lot of cancer survivors and [people] diagnosed with cancer always keep fighting, no matter what. For me, it’s to never give up, always keep fighting,” he said. “I am riding for my mom, my wife’s family. We need to conquer cancer, knock it out of here, and to get a cure.”

Ettorre and Pavon have been rigorously preparing themselves for the journey to Niagara Falls.

“I have been going to the gym every other day and I do anywhere from 30 km to almost 50 km,” Pavon said.

“Just today, I went out on the bike for 40 km,” said Ettorre.