François Gagnon (front left) with his friend and role model, the late Alexandre Charest, and other students participating in the 2016 Great Spin.
François Gagnon (front left) with his friend and role model, the late Alexandre Charest, and other participants in the 2016 Great Spin.

Cancer is a disease that has had an impact on people around the world. Responsible for more deaths than heart disease, it can strike at any age, claiming the lives of children, young adults, adults and the elderly alike. While great strides have been made there is still much research needed to be able to win the global battle versus this fatal disease.

An initiative of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Great Spin is a Quebec-wide fundraiser where people gather at a gym, hop on spinning bikes and spin for one, two or three hours in exchange for donations which go towards cancer research.

François Gagnon, a fourth-year medical student at McGill has taken the lead on one team that will be spinning at Klub Athletik in Griffintown on February 11. “I got involved because I lost a friend and a role model this past fall,” says François. “Alexandre was about 10 years older than me, but he was like my big brother. His family is very close to mine. Alexandre was involved in the Great Spin even before he was diagnosed with brain cancer. When he lost this awful battle in October, I felt like I had to continue his work and organize my own Great Spin.”

There are 30 McGill Medicine students registered to spin this year, with teams comprised of medical students from Université de Montréal and Université Laval among the numerous other teams from all walks of life participating in the event. Although the event targets a younger crowd than most other Canadian Cancer Society events, Gagnon says that people don’t need to be in perfect physical fitness to participate, noting that the intensity level is auto-regulated and as long as someone can do a long walk without a problem they should be fine.

To register to participate or to donate to the McGill team visit the Montreal event at

February 9, 2017