Family unites for their father by riding in Northern Pass and giving back to The Princess Margaret

Cindy MacMillan (third from right) with the "Caer for the Cure" family team 

When Cindy MacMillan’s father Michael Edwards got diagnosed with a rare form of bile duct cancer in December 2016, her close-knit family was in shock. He had always been the one who had taken care of them and now he was the one who was going to need the support.

After undergoing an invasive surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Michael spent last summer recovering at the family cottage in Muskoka with his wife Rosemary, four kids and 12 grandchildren by his side.

“It was a really emotional time for us … it was all hands on deck to keep him comfortable and make sure that everybody was available to him,” says Cindy.

The family wanted to do something to show their support for their dad and when they heard about Northern Pass, a cycling adventure through Muskoka in support of The Princess Margaret, they knew it was a perfect fit. 

“It was just this amazing way to divert our energies from worrying about dad to doing something. It gave us purpose, it gave us a goal … It was something active and fun that we could do together. I think that was a key thing.”

While Cindy’s son and husband were avid cyclists, the rest of the family “had baskets on their bikes,” quipped Cindy.

But they were determined to put their efforts towards training for the ride and fundraising. 

The “Caer for the Cure” team, named after their family island “Caerholme” in East Bay, received overwhelming support from friends and family and ended up raising more than $30,000 for The Princess Margaret’s GI Clinic. 

“Just to know it was going right back to the doctors and researchers that were helping him directly (was a really great thing) … that was reassuring to us and it felt significant and appropriate.” 

On the day of the ride three generations of their family ranging from ages 17-69 came out to take part.

With three options (40km, 100km or 150km), the ride was accessible to all of them.

After a beautiful scenic ride through Muskoka, their dad was cheering them on and waiting at the finish line.
 
The family has now signed up to do the 2nd annual Northern Pass on Aug. 12 and the team has already raised more than $20,000.

Cindy encourages other families to band together and take part in Northern Pass – or support someone else who is riding. 

“People are intimidated by the fundraising but then they realize once they get those letters out they see that people are really willing to give, especially when it’s a person that they love. It’s their way of giving back and to show their support.” 
 
Cindy (R) and her mom Rosemary take a break from training to pose for a photo by the water

Cindy adds anyone can do the ride, including her mother, who was unsure if she could finish the 40km.

“I said, ‘Look at what dad’s doing, look at what he goes through every day. This is going to be our hard day to show him we’re going to push through this.’”

To learn how you can register for Northern Pass or donate to a participant visit NorthernPass.ca. To support Cindy and her family visit the "Caer for a Cure" team page.