A Kelowna father planning to cycle 160 kilometres later this summer to raise funds for cancer research and to honour his late son’s memory.
Nicholas Witzke was 31-years-old and very active, going from one bike race to another and climbing mountains in between.
But in October 2019, Nicholas started feeling unwell. He said his stomach was bothering him and according to his father Kevin, he thought he ate something that didn’t sit well with him.
But after a ten-day stay at a Vancouver hospital in October 2019, Nicholas was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, starting chemotherapy in December 2019.
“He continued to ride. He would have treatment every two weeks, which hit him pretty hard for four to five days, then he’d feel better and he’d either ride his training bike in his house or he’d put some miles on his bike and ride places,” Kevin said.
During this time, Kevin said his son decided he wanted to go to Sicily to continue his treatment there and continue to ride.
“When we visited him in September (2020), he looked like a million bucks. He gained the weight he lost because of chemo, and he started running,” Kevin said.
Nicholas was looking better and it looked like he was conquering his cancer. His father said things looked promising, with the two men going on bike rides together to and from his chemotherapy sessions.
But by November 2020, scans showed that his cancer had spread. His treatment dosages were upped to battle the illness.
The last time father and son rode together was in Christmas 2020. His parents decided to take him back home to Kelowna in April 2021, checking into the hospital on April 24.
Five days later, he passed away.
Now, Kevin is joining BC Cancer Foundation’s Tour de Cure fundraising event on August 28 with the goal of raising money for cancer research.
“Biking was one of those things that he and I could do together. We both liked the hard work and the training ethic. This was something we were able to share.
“But now I also want to raise more awareness for early detection. Our team’s motto is ‘spot cancer early, stop cancer early’,” he said.
Kevin added he wants to encourage people, especially younger people, to be aware of their body’s needs and not to disregard bad feelings.
“Take care of yourself. If you’re not feeling right, don’t blow it off. Keep in touch with your doctor and get a second opinion if you’re unsure,” he said.