First-hand experience gives rider a mission

May 21, 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Mark Pavilons
Life’s journey is filled with twists and turns, often when you least expect it.
For a 47-year-old Nobleton man, he’s fighting the battle of his life. And it’s given him a sense of renewed optimism, compassion and a drive that’s put him on two wheels for a major fundraiser.
Given his age, Mike Toffoli never worried about cancer. That is, until it hit home.
It started with a bruise and then severe pain in his rib cage that affected his breathing. He sought medical attention quickly and by October of 2013, it was discovered he had lymphoma, so previous plans to operate were shelved.
Six treatments of chemotherapy, once every three weeks, was his routine from last fall through this past February. From then it was a round of radiation – every day for four weeks.
That wrapped up May 5 and Mike said he’s “feeling good.” That’s a far cry from the excruciating side effects from the rounds of chemo. He gets his CT June 30 and hopefully he’ll be cancer-free.
He went through it all – fear, nausea, vomiting and hair loss.
He noted that advances in medical treatments, and the expertise at Princess Margaret saved his life. Just decades ago, he wouldn’t have survived. He saw countless patients at the hospital – he said Princess Margaret treats upwards of 120 patients per day.
The prevalence of cancer is just “shocking.”
Helping him through it all were his wife and children. He was open with his kids about the diagnosis and ordeal. From doctors’ appointments to treatments and follow up, you “have to keep moving forward.”
“You’re always thinking about it, until they say it’s gone,” he noted. “It’s a wild and shocking experience.”
Mike may be one of the lucky ones. He said he lost a neighbour and a good friend to cancer recently, both in their 40s.
Toffoli can’t say enough about the staff at Princess Margaret and the physicians who treated him.
He’s heading back to work at the body shop June 1.
During one of his treatments, he saw a pamphlet for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer and after speaking with someone, he signed up on Christmas Day 2013.
He’s changed his eating habits drastically and he’s been training for the June 7/8 ride, which involves several 200-kilometre treks from Toronto to Niagara Falls. It’s all in support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, for medicine, research, treatment and advancement and survivorship programs.
This year marks the seventh annual ride and the event has raised almost $100 million to date. It has become the largest cycling event in Canada.
So far, Mike has raised roughly $3,000 for his first attempt.
He is looking for support from the King City and Nobleton communities to help him raise these vital funds for The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, the place that saved Mike’s life.
Statistics show that 2 out of 5 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Every day in Canada more than 500 people are diagnosed with cancer and 200 die from the disease.
For more, or to donate, visit



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