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Women & Girls: Cycling to Montreal for multiple myeloma awareness

Ashley Dieks, 38, is joining with a group of friends to travel to the Myeloma Canada Headquarters on a joint fundraising and awareness exercise
Sudbury cyclist and Myeloma patient Ashley Dieks is planning a two-week fundraising ride to Montreal.

A Sudbury woman is once again leading friends and supporters on a bicycle ride to raise awareness of the disease multiple myeloma, but instead of going on a day-long, 30-km ride around the city, she's preparing to set off on a two-week cycling adventure from Sudbury to Montreal.

Ashley Dieks, 38, is joining with a handful of friends to travel to Myeloma Canada headquarters on a joint fundraising and awareness exercise.

Dieks, who is a paramedic with the Sudbury Manitoulin EMS, learned a couple of years ago that she had a form of blood cancer. 

Sudbury cyclist and Myeloma patient Ashley Dieks is planning a two-week fundraising ride to Montreal. Image:

Myeloma Canada says the disease is the second most common form of blood cancer. It results in the abnormal behaviour and uncontrolled growth of plasma, a type of white blood cell that fights infections. Produced in the bone marrow, when they become cancerous, plasma cells begin producing abnormal proteins (called monoclonal protein, monoclonal immunoglobulin, or M-protein), instead of the cells the body uses to fight infections. These abnormal proteins are released into the body and can lead to serious complications in different parts of the body, including the bones and kidneys. 

Myeloma can be treated, but for which there is no cure.

"So I was diagnosed with myeloma in May of 2022,” Dieks said. “I've always been someone to take things to the next level … I constantly push myself physically and mentally challenge-wise."

It was last year that Dieks took part in a local one-day riding event with dozens of friends and supporters to help raise money for the national cause. A similar local cycling event in September of 2022 following her chemotherapy.

She said she had some bigger ideas this year that would have taken her out of the country, but didn't have all the vaccines required for extensive international travel.

"So I broached this idea to my partner and two of my friends. And I was like, "Hey, do you guys want to cycle from Sudbury to Myeloma headquarters in Montreal?"

Dieks said they were all for it.

She said they will be setting out on June 29 to travel a cycle friendly route from Sudbury to Espanola, then to Little Current and across Manitoulin Island, before ferrying to Tobermory. 

From there, the riders will travel south to Lake Ontario and follow the old Highway 2 route along Lake Ontario and the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. 

Dieks said the riders will be visiting communities such as Sauble Beach, Collingwood, Newmarket, Whitby, Cobourg, Picton Harbour, Gananoque, Morrisburg and St. Zotique, before arriving in Dorval, in Montreal's West End.

She added that no extra riders are taking part in the full adventure, but local riders will be welcome to tag along for a day or two to show support.

Sudbury cyclist and Myeloma patient Ashley Dieks is planning a two-week fundraising ride to Montreal. Image:

Dieks said the whole event is self-supporting and the group has already booked accommodations along the route.

For someone with myeloma, bone fractures are more common, so sleeping rough isn’t conducive to being on a multi-day cycling odyssey.

"So we are going to be staying in hotels only because with myeloma there is bone disease and I tend to fracture quite easily," said Dieks. “I think it was February, I found out that I had two new back fractures.”

She said the ride will also have a memorial aspect to it with each day's ride being a tribute to an existing myeloma patient or a patient who has passed away from the disease. Dieks said tributes will be posted on social media.

She said this is a way to personalize the campaign by putting the faces of real people forward. She said it will show people who are living with myeloma. It will also show that people have died from myeloma.

"And then yeah, we're hoping maybe to gather more awareness for this type of blood cancer because it isn't really well known. If we can collect some donations along the way, part of the proceeds are going to go to Myeloma Canada."

Dieks added she has also launched a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for the national Myeloma campaign..

Len Gillis covers healthcare along with mining news for Women & Girls is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.

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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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