AFTER a recent diagnosis with a form of incurable cancer called mesothelioma, Tea Gardens local Peter Stenson could have been forgiven for focusing on his own problems.
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Instead, the Palm Lake Resort resident has spent September raising vital funds for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
Mesothelioma can sit dormant for decades and is usually diagnosed in people who have worked with asbestos.
Peter had the idea to begin fundraising whilst at the hospital to undergo his first round of chemotherapy.
“I was sitting having chemo in the oncology unit at Lake Macquarie and I looked around and I just thought, these people here are doing it heaps tougher than me,” Peter said.
“There was a woman there receiving treatment who was pregnant.
“Can you imagine if that was your wife or girlfriend and she is going through the cancer treatment while pregnant? I just kept thinking that would be the worst thing.”
Peter then saw a post about the Starlight Foundation’s Tour de Kids pop up on Facebook.
The tour de Kids is a multi-day cycling event where entrants choose their distance and fundraising goal, completing their kilometres throughout the month of September to raise money to support sick children.
“I thought it was pretty cool. I am in my late seventies, while those kids may not even live to see seven. I thought it would be good if I could help kids like that, just to put a smile on their face.
“I thought ‘I can do this’. I signed up and away we went,” he said.
Peter faced the added challenge of fitting in his cycling around his therapy and treatment schedule.
“I said I could do 200km in the month, because I had to do it in between chemo treatments and therapies and those sorts of things, in the end I had about 14 days to actually do the kilometres.
“I aimed to raise $500 but I didn’t think I’d get it.”
Peter quickly smashed past his initial fundraising goal, and at the time of writing has raised close to $4000.
“Most of the donations are from people inside Palm Lakes, probably at least eighty percent. How good are these people?” said Peter.
Whilst completing his kilometres, Peter was supported by a group of friends he calls his ‘Peloton’, many of whom have a personal connection to this particular fundraising cause.
“We maybe wouldn’t have made it to the finish in the Tour de France but got over the line in the Tour de Kids.
“Of all the people who do most of the riding with me, there is only one person who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way.”
Peter told News Of The Area he had enjoyed the challenge.
“It was just determination. I had to do this.
“It’s been good, it’s been a bit of fun and for me it’s been a bit of hard work at times.”
After reaching 203 kilometres, Peter completed his last ride on September 23, to get some much-needed rest before resuming his own treatment.
He remains optimistic about the future.
“It’s all right. I know I am going to get through to the other side of the initial 12-months that the oncologist gave me, and I’ll make it at least another five years. I will be happy with that,” said Peter.
Community members who would like to support Peter’s fundraising effort can do so until September 30 by visiting https://tourdekids.org.au/peter-stenson.
By Doug CONNOR