Heather Dougall is preparing for a cycling trip that will take her from Calgary to the Atlantic Ocean.  Dougall will be pedaling for a significant part of the 4,100 km trip that will end at the U.S. state of Maine.

Heather is a cancer survivor and the trip is a celebration of that fact.

It was two years ago when Heather received devastating news

“On the May long weekend 2010, I had a sore throat,” says Dougall.  “I went to the doctor on June 9 and he said you have cancer and your life will change forever.”

“And it did.”

Following surgery to remove a 5 cm tumor from her tonsils, Heather faced six weeks of head and neck radiation followed by a five week hospital stay.

The fact she's able to exert this kind of effort is a testament to her strength and willpower.

“I have issues with breathing because of the scar tissue all down my nasal passages” explains Heather.  “Any type of raising in the amount of oxygen I need, I choke.”

“It’s been a very slow process.”

Dougall has preserved, managing to ride 32 kilometres in Cancervive's 2011 fundraising event in Austin, Texas.

“After 32 K, I realized that there is life after cancer and that I can create a goal especially a physical goal,” says Heather. “I can get to that goal and that cancer isn't going to stop me from being able to do that!”

Heather and her team will average 80 kilometres a day in this year's ride to Lewiston, Maine.

“Being able to ride across the country, which I never would have tried before, in the snow and rain and who knows what else, last year they had rain for the first 5 days, it’s going to be phenomenal and it’s going to be an amazing accomplishment.”

“I just can't imagine the feeling,” says Dougall.  “My family's going to be there waiting for me when I get there. It’s going to be unbelievable!”

Heather Dougall, the CTV Athlete of the Week brought to you by Big Chief Beef Jerky.