Ticket to Ride: Ian Loughran
Ian Loughran is excited about turning 50.
He’s pumped about living in a super high-efficiency house that his company, Vereco Smart Green Homes, designed and built.
He’s thrilled that he will cycle 10,000+ kms on his bike this year.
And when his 12-year-old daughter Sophie wants to go mountain biking or paddle boarding, Ian is downright ecstatic.
This kind of joie de vivre comes naturally to some people, but for Ian, a catapult to the top of the gratitude scale came in his mid-30s when he miraculously survived Stage 4 cancer.
“When they finally figured out why I was feeling so terrible, it was a five-part diagnosis,” said Ian. “I had Stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma, my left ventricle had collapsed, my pericardial sack had too much fluid, my lungs were full of fluid, and I had a 12 cm mediastinal mass strangling my superior vena cava.”
Ian was 35, had an engineering degree, had made a name for himself in the highflying world of telecommunications, and was now onto his next passion … ownership in a high-end motorcycle store. That’s when he started feeling tired and out of breath and noticed pressure in his head and swelling in his neck. It took three months and a flurry of tests before Ian was given the devastating news.
“Doctors told me they would do their best to cure me,” Ian said.
This was fine by Ian who clearly didn’t plan to die before his motorcycle store hit the pinnacle it was headed for. He didn’t want to die before he realized his dream of making a dent in the field of renewable energy, sustainability , high performance ‘green’ buildings/housing, and climate change mitigation. He had to stick around to prove to his mom that the joy of riding a motorcycle far outweighed the risks. And there were still so many roads to explore – on motorcycle or bicycle – both his passions.
Doctors told Ian’s family he might not last a week. He started chemotherapy the day he was diagnosed and endured eight rounds, followed by radiation. He read a stack of books including Bernie Siegel’s Love, Medicine and Miracles, and set his sights on a miracle.
At the end of many months of treatment, it appears he got his miracle. His oncologist sat before him, closed his binder, and said what anyone with cancer wishes to hear. “Looks like we got it.”
All except for the mass around Ian’s superior vena cava which they could only shrink to half its size. This would mean ongoing restriction in blood flow from the upper body to the heart. Not great but not a guaranteed death sentence.
Fast-forward 15 years, and Ian is not only alive, he is alive in a whole new way.
“I’ve changed. I only do what I really care about and often it’s things that I believe are providing value in the world. I care about what I eat and how I exercise and I pay attention to mental health. I’m very selfish with my time – I spend it with the people who really matter to me,” said Ian, naming his daughter at the top of the list.
“Someone once told me, ‘you have the gift of living with death on your shoulder.’ I get that. It adds a different dimension to how you see the world and how you live your life. It has taken me some years, but I think I’m on the road that’s right for me now.”
Cancervive – Cycle Therapy
In 2006, just months after an intense year of chemotherapy followed by radiation, Ian was on his bike overzealously cycling 112 kms in a cancer fundraiser called Tour de Cancervive.
“I love cycling, and I was invited on this tour from Calgary to Austin, Texas as a ‘Warrior’ – which is a person with cancer who is undergoing or finished treatment. I was in no shape to be doing this ride, but I thought ‘I just beat cancer, hell I can do this.’ I nearly put myself in hospital with heat exhaustion,” said Ian.
Since then, Ian has participated in several Cancervive rides, and with the proper training, he has loved every tour. “I view my bike as an instrument of physical and mental healing. I have also been very inspired by Cancervive’s theme: ‘No one is left behind.’
This year Ian will be participating in Cancervive’s one-day ride along the Bow Valley Parkway on August 21. The annual event raises money for Wellspring. [Learn more about Cancervive and Donate]
The Wellspring Connection
Early into cancer treatment, Ian joined Wellspring Calgary and took some meditation, yoga and expressive art programs. He found the support immeasurably helpful, and this inspired him to join the Cancervive ride, to help raise funds for Wellspring and support others living with cancer.
Half a Century of Unbridled Living
If you were to write a book on Ian’s journey so far, it would an enthralling read!
- There would be a chapter about 24-year-old Ian sidelining his Engineering Physics degree to spend a year busking on an Edmonton street corner.
- There’d be a chapter on 26-year-old Ian jetting off to Sao Paulo, Brazil to assist in the startup of a factory that manufactures wireless communications equipment.
- There would be a chapter on 29-year-old Ian spending time in Egypt where he was on the design team for wireless communications networks.
- Then comes the chapter on 31-year-old Ian who co-founded a boutique motorcycle store in Calgary that later became the top Ducati dealer in Canada.
- Then the dramatic turn of events where 35-year-old Ian is diagnosed with terminal cancer and miraculously survives, making space for death to rest on his shoulder.
- Then there is 38-year-old Ian who becomes a father and discovers a new level of joy.
- That same year, Ian moves to Saskatchewan to pursue his dream of consulting on climate change mitigation and renewable energy. Subsequently, he establishes a company called Vereco Smart Green Homes and finds meaningful purpose in building high performance, energy efficient homes.
And 50-plus Ian? Those chapters are still unfolding.