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2018 Tour of Light for CANSA

The Tour of Light will take place for the fourth year, in 2018 – ‘Spreading light and hope across South Africa’ is the slogan on the team’s cycling gear.

The cycle takes place over 8 days starting at the Grasmere toll plaza in Johannesburg and ending in Cape Town. Cyclists will overnight in Kroonstad, Colesburg , Bloemfontein , Richmond , Beaufort West , Matjesfontein and Paarl, before entering the Mother City on Thursday, 8 March 2018. Two participants of this year’s tour have conquered cancer themselves, and will be aiming to complete the gruelling 8 days, and cancer Survivors on their bicycles will join the group on the final day.

Cyclists will also visit hospitals and cancer centres on route, starting at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg. Says Cecilia Hiemstra, co-founder of the team: “We are a lot of compassionate South Africans cycling to raise awareness of cancer, from JHB to Cape Town. Our motivation is to reach out to cancer patients, celebrate cancer Overcomers and salute caregivers of cancer patients. We will be visiting cancer patients in hospital on route, and in Bloemfontein we will be visiting the CANSA Katleho Care Home. The patients accommodated there are mostly from remote rural areas. Our final visit will be with the oncology children at the Red Cross Hospital. We feel so blessed that we have the health to reach out.”

Cecilia’s Story

I was blessed with great health and abundance of energy. I competed in various events; cycle races, Midmar Mile swims, half marathons, etc. Life was good to me and I was in control.

In July 2015 I did not feel myself. Tired and full of aches – I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The doctor gave me three weeks to live. I had two options: take morphine and die, which I seriously considered, or go for intense chemotherapy. My boys convinced me to do the latter.

I went through six months of intense treatment and was close to death a few times. I had an amazing doctor, Karen Gunter, who told me that she was only a tool in God’s hands and that she was not prepared to give up on me.

My world changed dramatically. I spent weeks in the hospital, lost all my hair and could barely walk. My new friends were the other patients who were filled with fear and nurses sent straight from heaven. I thought to myself, how is it possible that I never knew that nurses were saints?

It is now 30 months since I was diagnosed and I am my old self again. I am an apple farmer in Elgin Valley. I cycle. I run. I laugh again.

We are going to spread light and hope to cancer Overcomers and salute their caregivers when we cycle for 8 days through our beautiful country. We will be visiting hospitals and care-centres. I am now able to tell cancer patients, “I know what you are going through. Hang in there. Do not think about people who succumbed to cancer. Think of the millions who have overcome it. God gave me the strength to get through cancer and you CAN too.”

I live my life now as if there is no tomorrow, feel so blessed that I have the opportunity to reach out to other South Africans in need.

Glen Jones: They say that cancer doesn’t have a face until it’s someone that is close to you… The Tour of Light is such a symbol of HOPE to me. Light at the end of a dark tunnel for those who suffer from cancer and also for their caretakers. I joined the Tour of Light in 2015 from an organizational point and for the fact that I’m standing together with those for the cause. For the Tour of light 2018, I would really like to see and experience the inner soul of the team of riders, carrying the message we want to spread in SA! I want to see and feel it through each and everyone of them, a message so strong that even if you were blind it would still come through. A group full of passion; loving and caring about carrying the message across. Inspiring the patients and saluting the caretakers and medical staff during the raw ordeal in life. As long as there is HOPE, there is LIFE!

Wayne Robb: I have lost both my parents to the dreaded disease, my mother passed at age 54 from ovarian cancer and my father at age 70 to prostrate cancer, both fought hard and never gave up hope, my mother passed in hospice in my arms and my father the same. As a result of medical treatment and God’s Hand I was given a chance to spend valuable time with them and I had the opportunity to say goodbye. For that I am grateful, and I do this ride to remind me of their personal suffering and to inspire people that hope and perseverance are necessary, not only for life but for living, for without hope you are truly dead.

Bernd Kramer: I am really privileged to be on this tour to encourage the cancer Survivors that are with us. It is an amazing journey to Cape Town that teaches you humility and servanthood, as well as allowing you to share the highs and the lows of this endeavour . I particularly enjoy getting to know the different people and their challenges , struggles and victories . Thank you for this opportunity ! May God continue to richly bless this endeavour .

Anneliese Lievens: I started riding the TOL to remind myself that there are other people out there who are going through a lot more pain than I ever will. Cycling is a physically demanding sport but I know that this is only a small part of what people with cancer are going through. This became more evident when we visited the CANSA Katleho Care Home. I have met some awesome people from the group we are riding with, and I have seen people with such big hearts, who care not just for themselves but for others. This has been a great experience for me thus far and I know it will be even greater going forward. What an awesome privilege and honor it has been to do this.

Adri Pienaar: I am the sister of Cecilia Hiemstra, the founder of the Tour of Light. I saw her overcoming cancer and the first year I came with strictly as support for her. I am spreading light across South Africa with the other TOL participants and celebrate how precious life and good health is.

Tiaan Ronne: Feel I need to be here. Lost my first wife, mother, sister and recently my dad to cancer. No success stories in this family…. YET. Honouring those who lost the fight, embracing those who fought courageously and overcame. Respecting the caregivers who gave their all, cried tears of joy, and some tears of grief. This year’s tour has its own personal challenges. Believing in miracles and fighting despair, attempting to live the motto “it all seems impossible, until it’s done”.

History of the Tour of Light

The Sunflower Tour of Light came about in 2015, after Tak Hiemstra, a leukemia patient underwent a successful stem cell transplant.

The purpose of the tour was to create awareness of leukemia, reach out to cancer patients and to encourage South African citizens to join the stem cell register.

The tour was founded by Cecilia Hiemstra and Ray Funnell (both cancer Overcomers).

Since 2017, Tour of Light has partnered with CANSA, the intention being not only to reach out to leukemia patients, but to South Africans affected by ALL kinds of cancer.