Healing from Breast Cancer, One Ride at a Time
Published Monday, June 15, 2020
Billie Fordham and her son Ryder look forward to many cycling adventures ahead. After a difficult year fighting breast cancer, Billie was the winning bidder on a package in The Co-Operators Bachelors for Hope Charity Auction, that included a one-year membership to OneBeat Cycle Studio along with a Cannondale SA Suntour M3030 bicycle, donated by Fresh Air.
By Heather Vita
On her last day of radiation therapy, Billie Fordham rang the celebratory bell in the Cancer Centre, then drove straight to OneBeat Cycle Studio to purchase an 18-month membership.
“All I talked about during my appointments with Dr. Anthes was ‘when can I get back to spin class?” she laughed.
Diagnosed at age 33, Billie went through a difficult year fighting aggressive, Stage 3, triple negative breast cancer. She had 8 rounds of chemotherapy, followed by a bilateral mastectomy, radiation therapy, and finally, a hysterectomy. When it was over, Billie was ready to get back to what she calls, ‘her church’.
“I initially tried spin classes when I moved back to Thunder Bay, and really liked them. But I was warned never to attempt any classes by an instructor called Jen Bell, because, apparently, her classes were insane,” said Billie. “Well after a few classes, I was getting comfortable and decided to give Jen’s class a try. In walks this lovely, calm person, and I thought things would be fine. Well, she does a personality 180 and this inner demon comes out who’s a hugely demanding instructor. Despite how hard the class was, Jen was the one who made me really fall in love with spinning. Since that first meeting, Jen’s become my personal trainer and we’ve developed an awesome friendship. I give her so much credit with being able to adjust and accept my new body, even if it looks different.”
“While I was going through my breast cancer treatment, I wanted so badly to be able to get to a spin class, but my body just couldn’t handle it,” recalled Billie. “During that time, Jen became the main instructor at OneBeat, and so as soon as I was ready, I went right back into it. It’s been the best thing for me throughout my recovery. For 45 minutes, the lights go out, the music’s on and you don’t think about anything else. In my life, thoughts about cancer never really go away. When I’m getting dressed, I see the scars that remind me of my surgeries. It’s just always at the back of your mind. When I’m spinning, all those thoughts disappear and it’s so much fun!”
As luck would have it, one of the packages in this year’s The Co-Operators Bachelors for Hope Charity Auction was a one-year membership to OneBeat Cycle Studio, along with a Cannondale SA Suntour M3030 bicycle, donated by Fresh Air. Billie had planned on going to the auction with some girlfriends for a fun night out, but due to the pandemic, the auction got moved online. When she saw the package, she knew immediately that she wanted to bid. “It was perfect timing really,” she said. “My 18-month OneBeat membership was coming to an end soon, and I knew I wanted to extend it. Plus, I figured I deserved a nice bike after everything I’ve been through!”
Billie and her 6-year old son Ryder have recently gotten into cycling around their neighbourhood; using the trails around Chapples Park for daily rides. “I’m so happy to be able to do this with him, because while I was going through treatment there were many days I couldn’t do anything. My parents were a huge support as my husband works out of town. None of the pamphlets and supports for breast cancer focus on women in their 30s. There’s no information on how to manage day care drop off and pickups. It’s a very challenging time to navigate with a young child. With my new bike and my continued OneBeat membership, I see many bright days ahead for me and my family.”
Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and bidders, this year’s The Co-Operators Bachelors for Hope Charity Auction raised $21,901 for the Northern Cancer Fund to support exceptional breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and research.