Gord Townley

7 Days makes a lasting contribution

7 Days in May cyclists at Niagara Falls, 2014
We donate to research because we want the money to go directly to improving lives and chance of survival.

"We do this ride in memory of my mother, which is ironic, because she didn't ride a bike and she hated bike riders on the road," says Gord Townley, who with his siblings founded The 7 Days in May Foundation, and its annual cycle around Lake Ontario. 

Lorraine Townley would approve of the Foundation's goals: to raise awareness about pancreas cancer and funds for research. “This is one cancer people don’t want to talk about,” says Gord. “When it comes back, it comes back with a fury.” His mother had surgery and initially received a clean bill of health, but the cancer recurred and she died 3 months later.

7 Days in May takes aim at this problem of recurrence. The Foundation has donated over $75,000 to a clinical trial studying the potential of chemotherapy to prevent recurrence in post-surgical pancreatic cancer patients. The international trial is led in Canada by the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG).

The trial compares the results of gemcitabine, the standard chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, with a new combination of chemotherapy treatments called FOLFIRINOX.

"Gemcitabine made a modest advance in survival about a decade ago. Clearly, there is a real unmet need for effective therapies," says Dr Chris O'Callaghan, Senior Investigator, who is leading the trial at CCTG.

Based at Queen's University in Kingston, ON, CCTG receives $5 million annually from the Society, which it leverages by securing industry and other sources of support.

"We exist because of the Canadian Cancer Society, and we work very hard to optimize the impact of every dollar donated to us,” says Dr O’Callaghan.

7 Days in May chose to donate the foundation’s proceeds to the CCTG because they believe it will translate into real results for patients.

“The leveraging aspect is very important to us,” says Gord. “We donate to research because we want the money to go directly to improving lives and chance of survival. For us, it's all about trying to give hope.”

Day 3 of the 7-day ride begins with a visit to CCTG.

“We spend about an hour with the scientists and staff and everyone rides off with a greater sense of purpose,” says Gord.

For CCTG, the cyclists’ visit is a “refreshing reminder of why we do what we do, who we do it for and that we are certainly not alone in wanting to make a difference for cancer patients,” says Dr O’Callaghan.

The 5th annual ride was able to sustain a clinical trial run by Dr. Biagi in Kingston, Ontario. The trial was in danger of closing due to lack of funds.

"I'll keep doing this as long as I can ride a bike,” says Gord.

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