By LAUREN THOMSON Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on July 15, 2021.
Steve Dartt, who was diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago, is now riding his bike from Richmond, B.C. to Montreal – a 5,000 kilometre journey – on his “Trek for Hope” to raise money for cancer research.
Steve, 57, lives in Montreal and previously worked for the Canadian Air Force and Bombardier. In the spring of 2020, while receiving help for other health concerns, his rheumatologist ran some scans that detected cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct liver cancer.
“Before having cancer, you really never know what it’s like,” Steve said. “Your whole life changes completely. When the doctor tells you to get your affairs in order, you feel like it’s a scene in a movie. It was hard to swallow.”
Marie Dartt, Steve’s wife, is driving the RV and mapping the route for his ride, and says after his diagnosis they realized this type of cancer isn’t usually detected until it is much more advanced.
“With the diagnosis, we’re extremely thankful for how it came about, because it was just by fluke,” said Marie. “It came very much out of the blue, he didn’t have symptoms.”
Steve underwent a surgery in July 2020, when doctors removed half of his liver, after which he began an eight-month chemotherapy treatment.
At the end of 2020, Marie said her husband’s morale was low. He started to think of the idea of cycling across Canada for cancer research and it “completely and totally changed his focus and absolutely has given him something to strive for.”
After the end of chemotherapy treatment and before departing for the trip across Canada, Steve had a bone scan done, and they found that the cancer metastasized to a few of his ribs.
“It kind of took all the wind out of me and made me want to give up,” Steve said. “Some people just go under a shell. I was there, I was really there, but I thought, ‘No way, I’m not going to go like this.'”
Steve and Marie still wanted to go ahead with the plan, Steve saying he promised his doctors he would cycle straight back to the hospital upon return. They took to the road from Montreal in an RV specifically for the project.
They are paying all their own costs so all donations they receive can go straight to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and for funds to research for this specific type of cancer.
They have enjoyed their journey so far and Steve loves the honks and thumbs up.
“I thought the Rockies would really get me, but they were no problem,” said Steve. “It was so serene, so beautiful, I felt so close to God.”
“I hit a top speed of 74.8 kilometres an hour coming down a hill in Grand Forks. It was a rush of a lifetime, I loved every minute of it. As a matter of fact, we drove back up so I could do it again,” he laughed.
Marie says despite the hard news they received right before they left Montreal, they both “really put the thought on a back shelf.”
Marie has been so amazed with Steve’s drive to complete his goal.
“He’s absolutely amazed me. There were times when I thought he would be done after five kilometres, but he has amazing determination.”
She got emotional and said, “I’m very proud of him.”
Steve and Marie were in good health and spirits. They will leave Medicine Hat today and continue their trek over the Saskatchewan border.
You can visit his page at http://www.trekforhope.ca.