Dwayne Buckle is on a healing walk across British Columbia to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.
Buckle set off on foot from Red Deer, Alta., last month, aiming for Port Hardy.
According to Google Maps, the journey is roughly 1,500 kilometres. He passed through Revelstoke Nov. 6, day 17 of his journey.
“This is not supposed to be a field trip. It’s a memorial for my family,” said Buckle.
|The 40-year-old’s motivation comes from his aunt and cousin’s recent deaths due to cancer. He aiming to raise funds and awareness about an illness that is the main cause of death in Canada. (Submitted)|
The 40-year-old’s motivation comes from his aunt and cousin’s recent deaths due to cancer. The two died just five days apart and were an instrumental part of Buckle’s life.
“They both went the distance for me and now it’s time for me to go the distance for them,” he said.
Buckle said he won’t release the name of his cousin and aunt until he gets to Port Hardy.
“I’ve let them down before. I don’t want to again.”
As the snow is beginning to fall and a pandemic rages, it does not seem the ideal time to start trekking. But that’s the point, Buckle said.
“Is it ever a good time to get cancer? My family didn’t get to choose the time either.”
He credits his family for where he is now.
They believed in him and stood by him. It just took a while for Buckle to recognize it. They encouraged him to get a job, to get training, so he pursued a career in firefighting.
Dangling from his backpack are several yellow bandanas with names of family and friends that have died from or survived cancer. Last summer, he walked to Vancouver Island via Highway 3 from Cranbrook in memory of his sister.
So far, his daily record for walking is 87 km in Banff National Park. He’s sticking mostly to Highway 1.
“My feet were blistered that day,” he said with a laugh.
Walking over Rogers Pass in winter was difficult he said, with the trucks and hills.
His least favourite part were the snow tunnels. Some of the tunnels, did not even have a shoulder.
Friends did not want him walking alone through Glacier National Park, so they arranged to act as a pace car, escorting him through the tunnels with their hazards flashing. Every night Buckle leaves a yellow bandana with his grandfathers name on it in the snow to act as a marker, then friends drive him to a place to rest, returning back the next day.
Some drivers honk and wave as they pass.
Buckle said he walks on the opposite side of the highway, so people do not stop and offer a ride.
“Whatever comes my way, I’m walking over it.”
|The walk from Red Deer, Alta to Port Hardy, B.C. is more than 1,500 km. Dwayne Buckle plans to mostly stick to Highway 1. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
Leaving Revelstoke, he said his pack was over 50 pounds, filled with survival gear and food, such as high energy sunflower seeds.
As he walks, Buckle said he listens to music and lets his mind drift. He thinks about family, such as his 12-year-old son in Red Deer, how things were and how they might be when he’s done mourning.
Buckle is trying to raise money for cancer research. Donations can be made directly to the Canadian Cancer Society.
This year, it’s estimated 83,400 Canadians will die from cancer, according to Canadian Cancer Society. Nearly one in two Canadians is expected to develop cancer during their lifetime and one out of four are expected to die. The disease is the leading cause of death in the country.
“At some point, we’re going to have to fix this disease,” said Buckle.
“I know I won’t fix it alone. But it’s better that I try to do something, then just sit and do nothing.”
He settled on finishing the trip at Port Hardy, simply because it was the end of the road.
“Maybe I’ll start swimming,” he said jokingly.
People can follow Buckle’s journey on his Facebook page called Hike for the Cure.
– Written with files from Zoe Ducklow