Trevor Nettleton has goals in life.
One is to become an RCMP officer.
Another is to ride the 2018 Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock.
Nettleton, 34, whose full-time job is a commercial vehicle safety and enforcement officer with the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, has volunteered as an auxiliary constable with Nanaimo RCMP detachment since 2012.
He was born and raised in Ladysmith, is married and the father of two boys, 10 and three.
“[Tour de Rock] is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I got into the policing realm and just knowing people who have done it,” Nettleton said. “I’d seen it in school and stuff like that … but when you actually understand how huge it is, by being around people and within the RCMP organization, you realize it’s such a big thing,” he said.
Cancer has taken its toll in Nettleton’s family. His grandfather died of prostate cancer, his grandmother died of brain cancer, an aunt contracted multiple myeloma twice and four friends have had cancer, including one friend who had a double mastectomy at 29.
“Obviously, for the purpose of the tour, it’s on my mind, but also to pay homage to them – people I’ve known or have lost – and just kind of ride in tribute to them and ride in their honour as well,” said Nettleton.
Nettleton “had a scare” when he was 19 that gave him some sense of what it could be like for a child facing cancer.
“I didn’t have cancer, but I had an inoperable growth in my brain,” he said.
The first clue something was wrong was when he had a grand mal seizure at his job.
It took about five weeks for doctors to make a diagnosis and in that time symptoms progressed quickly.
“A big multitude of weird things happening. I couldn’t walk. I was in a wheelchair. Mass confusion. Memory problems and they actually thought it was lymphoma brain cancer … but there was a couple things; they didn’t have the specific cells to fully diagnose it, so they didn’t fully treat me or diagnose me,” Nettleton said.
While he was in Vancouver General Hospital, a cousin arrived with a prayer group to offer a healing prayer. Nettleton comes from a religious background. His grandfather was a pastor in Ladysmith.
“So they came and prayed and then a month later … they did an MRI that showed [the tumour] was shrinking and then the next one, two months later showed it was shrinking, shrinking, shrinking, shrinking until all that was left was scar tissue,” Nettleton said. “So, I understand big scares like that. Mine was nothing compared to what kids go through battling cancer.”
His experience brought into perspective what the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock is about.
“To have somewhat of an experience of something traumatic like that, whatever I can do to alleviate that or minimize that for children, by all means, I’ll do my part,” Nettleton said.
Training for the tour has put him on a bike for the first time in eight years and said he borrowed a bike from a former tour rider and showed up for his first practice in March wearing basketball cross-trainers and a sweater – not the standard road cycling gear. Many Tour de Rock riders have little or no cycling experience prior to getting on a team.
The 2018 team was announced May 25 when riders were presented with their official team training uniforms and tour bikes.
“I’ve fallen in love with biking now,” he said. “It’s built a desire and a passion in me that I’m going to bike this thing and keep biking after because I’ve found a new love for it, for sure.”
Nettleton has a set a fund-raising goal of $30,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.
To read about Nanaimo RCMP Const. Shane Coubrough, also riding in this year’s Tour de Rock, click here.