PEDALING WITH PURPOSE: Local mom's journey to raise money for ch - Tucson News Now

PEDALING WITH PURPOSE: Local mom's journey to raise money for childhood cancer

(Source: Lisa Chuinard) (Source: Lisa Chuinard)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Lisa Chuinard cycled 327 miles for the Great Cycle Challenge in June. 

The annual, nation-wide challenge raises money for the Children's Cancer Research Fund

Chuinard braved the Arizona heat and met her goal of 300 miles while raising more than $5,000. She was just one of the more than 38,000 riders who combined to raise more than $4 million.

"The un-comfortableness if you will is nothing compared to what they're going through," Chuinard said. "I keep going. I keep going. As miserable as it is sometimes, the reason stays with me."

The reason she did it, two of her children. 10-year-old Noah was diagnosed with Leukemia in August 2015. Eight months later, 11-year-old MeiLi was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis Type 2. 

"My daughter looked up at me and her eyes were going in different directions," Chuinard said. 

Doctors found more than 20 tumors on her brain. 

"What she has is considered nonmalignant,"Chuinard said. "But they grow on nerve endings and there is no cure."

MeiLei underwent surgery and an unsuccessful clinical trial. She's now deaf and losing her vision.

Noah is more than halfway through his 3 1/2-year treatment and in remission. 

A New Life

"This is a whole new life that we've been given and it's been hard navigating this new life," Chuinard said.

This new life has left Chuinard struggling to cope. 

"I've been pretty depressed for the past couple of years and PTSD and a lot of struggles," she said. 

Chuinard said she used to be active but stopped once her children became sick. She soon turned to exercise again for comfort. 

At first, Chuinard said it was just a quick, short run. She then finished a 5k. Soon after, she set her eyes on a triathlon. 

"I knew that if I didn't set a goal for myself, I wouldn't keep going," Chuinard said. 

'Cancer is not taking another thing'

But that goal came to a sudden stop with one phone call. 

"Then my doctor called me and told me I had skin cancer," she said. 

Chuinard underwent surgery, healed and she was determined to go after her goal. 

"Cancer has taken so much from my family," she said. "Cancer is not taking another thing."

She has now pushed herself through four triathlons and the Great Cycle Challenge. Chuinard is gathering strength from Noah and MeiLei every step of the way. 

"My son has had this mantra. Don't stop, won't stop," she said. "I started saying that to myself. And I thought, you know, my kids don't have a choice. They can't just get up and say, I think I'll do chemo later. Or let's slow down today."

In December, Noah participated in the pilot-for-a-day program at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Check out that HERE and in the App Extras section of the Tucson News Now app.

She's set a new goal for herself. Chuinard plans on finishing 12 triathlons in a year. You can find more information about the Great Cycle Challenge HERE.

The Children's Cancer Research Fund works to create awareness of childhood cancers and also helps to fund research. Learn more about them HERE.

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