Cancer patients embark on annual 1,100-km cycling tour of Taiwan

Participants in this year’s race for more cancer awareness set off from Taipei on Sunday on a 1,100-kilometer cycling trip around Taiwan to encourage cancer patients to approach the illness with optimism and bravery. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) – More than 40 people with cancer, including eight from Hong Kong, set off from Taipei on Sunday on a 1,100-kilometer cycling trip around Taiwan to encourage cancer patients to approach the illness with optimism and bravery.

A total of 105 people, including family members of the patients, physicians, nurses, and a cancer patient from Malaysia who will join the tour in Yilan County, are taking part in the trip, which has been organized by the Taiwanese Anti-Cancer Association for seven straight years.

They will cycle down the east coast to southern Taiwan and head north up the west coast, and expect to return to Taipei on Nov. 14.

The trip’s rallying cry is: “unbeatable riders, live out your dreams,” a message 71-year-old Thomas Chen (陳祥鵬) takes to heart.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer about five years ago and said this would be his fourth cycling tour around the nation, every time accompanied by his wife.

“Physical exercise is beneficial to cancer patients because it stimulates immune system response. Laughter can also boost the immune system,” Chen said.

“What scares cancer cells the most is laughter. This is the lesson I have learned while fighting cancer.” Wei Chuan-yen (魏銓延), a breast cancer specialist at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taitung, said studies show that women who exercise have a 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer, and exercise also significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer recurring.

“I often encourage my patients to get regular exercise, and so I have to practice what I preach,” said Wei, adding that some of his patients will meet him in Taitung and ride with him for a portion of the trip.

Wong Kwokming (黃國鳴) said his group from Hong Kong is hoping to use the opportunity to raise money for sick children to help them fulfill their dreams.

“Now we are recovering from cancer. We want to give back for the help we received from the Taiwanese Anti-Cancer Association,” he said. 

By Shih Hsiu-chuan