Cyclists arrive in Kingston as part of 7 Days in May fundraiser for pancreatic cancer

(L to R) Gord Townley, founder of the 7 Days in May fundraising ride, was joined by Michelle Capobianco, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Canada, and Dr. Jim Biagi, Oncologist and PancOne™ researcher, as 7 Days in May arrived in Kingston on Monday, May 27, 2019. Photo by Michelle Allan.


A group of cyclists on a mission to fight pancreatic cancer arrived in Kingston at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, May 27, 2019 as part of the eighth annual 7 Days in May ride.

Starting in Oakville, the participants have cycled 350 km so far as part of the week-long route around Lake Ontario. They will leave Kingston on Sunday to continue their marathon ride east to cross into the US in Ogdensburg, NY and start their journey westward for five consecutive days of cycling back to Mississauga.

Participants gathered at the waterfront park across from the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario to hear Dr. Jim Biagi, Oncologist and PancOne™ researcher, speak about research developments in the field of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is incredibly difficult to treat — 93 per cent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will die within five years. Biagi said that researchers have had to “go back to the drawing board to understand it better.”

Dr. Biagi spoke of a “bleak outlook” surrounding pancreatic cancer treatment, citing a Canadian Medical Association Journal article that stated that less than half of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer even get some form of active treatment. In an effort to change this, The Pancreatic Cancer Canada Foundation created the Pancreatic Canadian Oncology Network (PancOne)™, a national network of centres doing groundbreaking research on pancreatic cancer.

According to Dr. Biagi, “Part of PancOne™ research protocol is after patients have failed the standard treatment, up to 40 per cent or almost half the patients can have access to new therapies that have not been tried before.”

Several thousand dollars are spent on each patient enrolled in the trial, but research into pancreatic cancer currently receives only 2 per cent of all cancer funding.

“Without research money, the program would grind to a halt,” Dr. Biagi said, telling the crowd of a time when a trial “almost had to close,” but was able to continue thanks to funding from the 7 Days ride. 7 Days in May was “a lifeline,” said founder Gord Townley.

Townley founded 7 Days in May to honour his late mother, Lorraine, who passed away from pancreatic cancer.

“We have a good chance based on where we’re at now of hitting $150,000 raised on our own.”

This year, cyclists were challenged to fundraise by the estate of longtime Kingston philantraphist Bob Clark matching the first $25,000 of donations.

“That will be $175,000, so we’re pretty happy,” said Townley. “The ride’s going very well. Compared to last year, the biggest thing is yesterday was very safe, we had no incidents.”

During the Kingston stretch of last year’s 7 Days in May ride, a number of cyclists were struck by a car. The incident resulted in multiple injuries and the death of cyclist Jeff Vervaeke. A Kingston man was subsequently charged in relation to the incident. Today, the group returned to the site of the crash and spent of moment of silence at the “ghost bike” memorial erected in memory of Vervaeke.

While Townley said that some challenges were to be anticipated, he described the 29 cyclists as “pretty darn excited” and “a great group of folks.”

“They’re resilient. They can ride through anything,” he said.

Information about 7 Days in May can be found at To learn more about or donate to Pancreatic Cancer Canada Foundation and the PancOne™ network, visit


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