A WOMAN wanting to raise awareness about a little-known disease rode her bike through Terrace on her 4,800 km trip recently.
Michaela Cui is pedalling through B.C. and down the U.S. coast on a bike, along with her friend Chris Duodna and her mom along in a jeep for support, a journey of 3,000 miles (approximately 4,828 km), as a way of raising money and fighting Graves Disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid.
Cui was diagnosed with Graves Disease last fall after her doctor tested for it, believing her depression and bulgy eyes meant she had it, she said at the Wild Duck RV Park, the group’s rest stop here June 18.
She takes medication for the disease, and because of it, is prone to catching colds. She may also need to have thyroid surgery.
Cui wants to spread awareness about the disease, which affects women more than men, and raise money for the Graves Disease and Thyroid Foundation.
Many people with Graves Disease go undiagnosed and are treated for depression only, said Cui.
One well-known person with the disease was the late comedian Marty Feldman, who acted in movies and television in the late 1960s through to the early 1980s and was known for his bulgy eyes, which were that way due to Graves Disease, she said.
The trip began in Anchorage Alaska June 1 and she, Duodna and another friend, who had to quit the trek, worked their way down along the Alaska marine highway system through Prince Rupert to Terrace, she said.
“It’s been really cool to see Alaska and it’s opened a lot doors for me personally,” she said.
Along the way, she’s been posting on a blog and has heard from people who have the disease and have given her encouragement or advice.
She plans to continue down Hwy 16 to Vancouver then on down the west coast through Washington state and end the trip in San Francisco, which she figures will take about 50 days, until July 22.
To do that means she and Duodna will ride from 60 to 110 miles (about 97 km to 177 km) each day, depending on the weather and where the towns are along the way.
As of her visit here June 18, she had raised about $6,000 in donations, which goes into an account to go to the Graves Disease and Thyroid Foundation. If people choose to donate to her ride, there is another account for that.
As of yesterday, June 22, the real time update on her website, GreaterThanGraves, placed Cui and Duodna in Burns Lake, about 347 km east of Terrace.