Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy birthday to me!

33 is a nice friendly, symmetrical number; can I stop here, please?

To celebrate my birthday, I am launching my big 2010 fundraising campaign!

In June, I'm going to spend a weekend cycling from Vancouver to Seattle to raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation as part of the Ride to Conquer Cancer. The final route is still TBD, but will be something like 250 km / 150 miles over two days. Oh, and did I mention I only have a hybrid, rather than a road bike? (Yes I am crazy). The longest ride I've ever done was 60 km in one day, for the MS Society; I did that without any training at all, but this is a different beast altogether and I will be putting in some serious clicks between now and June!


I work for the BC Cancer Agency, who will be the ultimate recipients of the money raised. The money is all going to support our research efforts, rather than our publicly-funded treatment centres.

A couple of years ago I wrote about the difference in culture between the BCCA, where many of the staff and trainees raise money to support the institute, and my PhD institute in Scotland, where people were more than happy to donate to, say, a cancer hospice, but were reluctant to raise money for their employer.

So, what convinced me that my Canadian colleagues have it right?

Well, my PhD and postdoc projects were almost completely divorced from any clinical impact. But my new colleagues' research is very, very different. I work with people doing some simply amazing work in cancer genomics, and I'm involved in some other outstanding translational and clinical research projects. (I wish I could tell you about some of the other awesomeness emanating from our labs and clinics, but until it's published, that's just not possible). For the first time in my career, I have more contact with cancer patients than just seeing them in the canteen when I pop into the clinical building to grab some lunch, and I have a much better understanding of how my colleagues' work can and will result in better diagnostic and treatment options.

In the last couple of years I've also seen several relatives, friends, and colleagues (and their kids) diagnosed with cancer, and a few of them have either died or have incurable metastases.


In order to take part in the ride, I need to raise at least $2,500. This is almost as daunting as the length of the ride, and hence I am asking my awesome blog readers to help out!

Now, I'm not just asking for money, and I'm not expecting people to give without receiving anything in return. I know a lot of my readers are students and postdocs on minimal salaries, and so I would be very grateful for any "in kind" donations such as arts/crafts/services I can use as raffle/auction prizes, unwanted books I can sell at yard sales etc. And I am also in need of advice on how to train and how to fundraise! Even a link or tweet directing your own readers to this post would be greatly appreciated.

If you can afford to make a cash donation, I would love to give you something in return. Here are the options I've thought of so far, but please feel free to suggest more ideas!
  • For $50 I will write you a personalised limerick (and post it on one/both of my blogs with a comment saying how awesome you are, if you wish)
  • For $100 and up I will answer a question, write a blog post, complete a challenge, or do a silly / embarrassing / amusing thing, of your choice, and I will post photographic and/or video evidence on the internet as required. This item is AT MY SOLE DISCRETION!!! I will not do anything illegal, dangerous, creepy, or potentially damaging to professional reputations (my own or others'), or anything else that I just do not want to do, for any reason at all. I also reserve the right to negotiate my price... for example, I might, say, dump a tub of ice-cream over my head for around $100. I might consider shaving my head... but it's gonna cost you somewhere around the region of $2,000. (You can, of course, go in with other donors to make up the total). If you're interested in this option, please contact me (blog comments or email: vwxynot [at] gmail) with your idea and suggested price, and we can discuss it BEFORE YOU DONATE!!!
  • I could also potentially proofread or edit your manuscript or grant proposal in exchange for donations, but my ability to a) understand it properly and b) do the work without causing a conflict of interest in my day job would depend on your field and nation of residence. As above, please contact me before donating!

You can view my personal page and make donations here.

This will be the only time this year or next year that I ask for donations. 2012 and onwards... well, it depends on how my legs feel when we get to Seattle!

Thank you in advance for your donations, advice, link love, and good luck vibes!

Right, I'm off to work and then to the Canada-Norway hockey game. Let's hope Team Canada can give me a win for my birthday!

If anyone's watching the game on TV, I'll be the one in the red shirt.


  1. Happy Birthday Cath, and no you CAN NOT stop here, that would requiring dying and I kinda like yah:)))

    I will look into my finances and see what I can scroung up, things are a bit tight with the whole having to buy a new vehicle.

    wishing you many many years of birthdays:)))))

  2. Ooooh, shaved head....now that might be worth a bake sale!

  3. Oh yeah, Happy Birthday too! Birthday cookie soon?

  4. Happy birthday! (It's somewhat reassuring that you had this birthday before moi ;) and seem to be ok with it...)

    I'll think of what I would like in exchange, since you brought it up. Otherwise I'd be happy to donate without more than you being happy on the bike (obviously you are a tad bit on the insane side to think about biking 250 km over 2 days, but hey... we're all a bit alooft sometimes :) ) - maybe an enlargement of one of those gorgeous photos you took of Snow and Vancouver? I'd see people line up to auction for one of those.....

  5. Happy happy! No, you can't stop here, unless you figure out a way for everyone to stay or go back to their favorite symmetrical age (or forward to as the case may be). My next symmetrical age is a number I don't even want to contemplate, but 38 was a very good year (send me back?).

    I'll add something to your ride fund - and I think you should be in charge of raising money for people, you might just be good at it! :)

  6. Nice one and Happy Birthday! I too now work in (mostly cancer based) clinical medicine and have had friends and loved touched too hard by its tendrils in recent times.

    I shall be making a donation closer to payday. If you don't see my name on your list then BUG ME! I have a terrible memory (especially where money leaving my wallet concerned)


  7. Thanks all!

    SM, I will do my best not to die before my next birthday then!

    If money is too tight then please don't worry about it. But if you have any used books or anything lying around the house... ;)

    Mermaid, for sure! I'm kinda busy (yay!) this week, except for Friday - but I guess we shouldn't use blog comments as personal email (it tends to annoy people) so I'll email you later!

    Chall, yes I am obviously a wee bit on the crazy side! Let me know if you decide what you'd like in exchange!

    Silver Fox, thank you so so much for your donation! I'll see how I'm feeling in a few months (and how much hair I have to shave off) before deciding to make fundraising a permanent career though...

  8. Tideliar, thank you! Every little bit helps so much!

  9. Happy Birthday, Cath!
    Ride to Conquer Cancer sounds great (though I certainly wouldn't be up to this much biking in a weekend). I have lost more than one family member to cancer, so this is close to my heart. I'll send you some donations and link love.

  10. Happy birthday Cath!
    I think 250 km in one weekend is perfectly doable (not that I've ever done that myself, but I did > 100 on one day so extrapolated I think 250 in two days is achievable especially with a little training. And piles of pasta, tip from Tour de France cyclists!)

    I'll see how my budget is but would like to donate...

  11. Amelie, thank you so much! It is greatly appreciated.

    Nina, the first day shouldn't be a problem at all - it's the second day I'm worried about!

    Any excuse to eat a huge pile of pasta is fine by me!

    PiT, thank you! It was one of the top three birthdays ever, that's for sure!

  12. Happy Birthday! And what a cool goal for the year! I will have to think about a way to support your goal :)

  13. Tremendous! It will be a great experience I'm sure!!!! Once you've done that you'll have bike envy and will almost definitely be buying a road bike :)

  14. Thanks both!

    Dr J, welcome back to the blogosphere! The alternative to bike envy is that I will never, ever want to get on a bike again...

  15. I did my first 200km bike ride on a hybrid too. I predict that you will love it so much (aided by a definite adrenaline component) that it won't be your last ride! :).

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  17. On a lark a friend and I biked from college in Buffalo to our home (just an hours drive shy of NYC). The grand total was approximately 400 miles, and we did it in 3 days. We had a trail car which carried food and our camping equipment for the first two days. For me (who was in long distance running shape) the first day was a breeze. The second and third days were total bears ... and also happen to be the days we hit the Catskill Mountains. It was a great ride (with the exception of saddle soreness ... invest in a great padded saddle) and I remember it fondly to this day. I imagine you will remember this ride with fondness*. Oh, and we did the trip on mountain bikes with slicks ... so you should be fine with your hybrid.

    It's tax time here. Let me see what my return is, and I'll see if I can throw some ducats your way! :)

    *Topping 60 mph down some of those mountain roads was a bit of a thrilling, but harrowing experience.

  18. btw, you need some kind of STICKY link to this page!!! I had to look look to find.... ;)

  19. Good idea! And thank you SO MUCH for your generous contribution! There was absolutely no need for you to donate more than the $20 bet amount, but I am very very grateful that you did!


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