His grandfather had prostate cancer. His father is battling the illness.
And Dr. Riley Senft believes there’s a good chance that either he or his younger brother, Derek, will have prostate cancer.
Wanting to get the message out about early detection of the cancer, Senft took a leave from his medical residence at the University of Manitoba and began a cross-Canada run May 7 in Cape Spear, Nfld.
Seven pairs of running shoes, getting engaged in Kenora, Ont. to his partner, Sarah, and seeing spectacular scenery later, Senft ran through the North Okanagan on his way to his end goal, his hometown of Vancouver on Oct. 6.
“I feel awesome and I totally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Senft, 32, taking a break from his Step Into Action tour just outside of Armstrong. “The run has gone pretty good. The weather has been not so bad. Today (Tuesday), it’s nice and sunny and the terrain is levelling out in the valley. It’s a lot easier than the passes I’ve been doing since entering the Rockies.
“It was a little tough there. I was coming off a month of Prairie running so my legs were not used to running hills, up or down.”
His goal on the run was not only to raise awareness of early detection for prostate cancer, but to raise funds. Through last week, he had raised more than $340,000.
“It’s awesome, we’ve done a great job,” said Senft, who has been supported in his large travelling motorhome since Newfoundland by road manager Mike Downey. Family members have also helped along the way.
So have local fire departments and prostate cancer awareness groups.
Firefighters in various communities have been giving Senft an escort into town, and allowing the motorhome to stop at their halls.
“The escorts are a lot of fun,” said Senft, who was helped into Vernon by members of the Vernon Fire Department. “The lights flashing are always fun and keeps the big trucks away and gets them to slow down. They don’t slow down for much those guys, they’ve got a schedule to keep and they get pretty close to me. They’re going pretty fast as they’re zipping by me.”
Firefighters and about a half-dozen members of the Vernon Prostate Cancer Support and Awareness Group ran with Senft through Vernon.
Throughout his journey, Senft has been blogging about his run. Highlights have included getting engaged in Kenora and running through Lake Superior National Park and parts of Saskatchewan.
“Lake Superior was beautiful, I ran along it for quite awhile and I could go swimming in it every day, it was 35 to 40 degrees so having the lake right next to you was awesome,” he said. “Saskatchewan was beautiful for the first week, then it was really flat. The scenery did not change for a long time. When I saw the mountains, I was pretty excited.”
To find out more about Senft’s cross-Canada run, or to make a donation to his cause, visit StepIntoAction.ca.
Senft expects to end his run on Friday at West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park.