Cycle of life brings fathers together

Updated November 2 2012 - 11:13am, first published February 8 2009 - 12:58pm

JOHN Callanan and Brian Shorter had never met until yesterday. But they have the tragic loss of a young family member to cancer in common.The two men came together at Lake Wendouree to promote the second Ballarat Come to Life Cycle Classic.Held on February 22, the classic aims to raise $100,000 for the Ballarat Cancer Research Centre.They were joined by Lake Wendouree Football & Netball Club players, who are tackling the classic in memory of senior player and Brian's son, Dale Shorter.Dale died aged just 25 from bowel cancer on October 30, 2007.Lake Wendouree president Gavin Maher said Dale's death was a catalyst for them to join in the ride."We only had footballers last year but this year we'll have netballers as well," Mr Maher said.John Callanan lost his daughter-in-law Michelle (widely known as Bunny) to breast cancer on Boxing Day last year.Michelle was diagnosed in May 2007 and was believed to have gone into remission in September last year after chemotherapy, radiation treatment and a double mastectomy."We thought she was all okay, she'd been through all the hoops," John said.But in November pain in her hips turned out to be spinal cancer."It was shattering. We'd just got our head around the fact she was okay."As her oncologist prepared to operate on her spine, one final test showed the cancer had spread to her bone marrow."Her doctor said he'd never seen anything as aggressive."Michelle passed away on Boxing Day in the Epworth Hospital in Richmond.Throughout her illness, her husband Sean maintained a website called her death, the blog was inundated with messages."It was a place for people to go and say something. A blog connects people."Both John and Brian urged as many people as possible to enter the classic."Any kids I've taught, people I played cricket or footy with. Anyone with a bike can join in," John said.*The cycle classic includes 50 km, 85 km or 100 km road ride options through Buninyong, Yendon, Mt Egerton, Ballan, Dunnstown and back into Ballarat. Alternatively there are relay rides around Lake Wendouree for teams of 12. There will also be entertainment, bands, food, beverages and the Pleasant St market at the lake on the day.

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