GALLERY: Bikers rally to support Tom's cancer message
IF YOU had seen the beaming Tom Dowell that rode into Mount Larcom this weekend, the last thing that would have crossed your mind was that he had terminal cancer.
The Calliope man used to ride motorbikes in the 1970s, and on Saturday morning he was transported back to that time with the help of more than 50 riders from across the region.
Social biker clubs the Ulysses Club, MACE, the Loners, Central Queensland Riders and the newly-formed Gladstone chapter of Easyriders Australia joined Tom in a social ride from Calliope to Mount Larcom and back.
Unable to ride a motorbike himself, Tom made the trip on the back of a trike.
"I'm just blown away by the support. It's just so nice," he told The Observer.
"I'm feeling good today, but this is going to make me feel better for days and days and days. It's awesome."
The ride was organised by Easyriders member Paul Mitchell, who only met Tom last week.
"I've only known him a week and it feels like I've known him for years," Tom said.
"He's just that sort of bloke."
Since being diagnosed with prostate cancer, Tom has devoted his time to getting the message out there that men shouldn't leave things to chance.
"This is all about prostate awareness. Get tested," he said.
"Prostate cancer is the largest killer of men in Australia now - over 3000 a year.
"It's even surpassed breast cancer. So we've got to do something about it, get more awareness out there."
Tom, 50, has been told by his doctors he will likely not see his 53rd birthday.
"I would have liked to have been diagnosed a bit earlier, but it is what it is," he said.
"Now I've just got to help as many other guys as I can."
Saturday's ride was also the first official outing for the new Gladstone chapter of Easyriders Australia, which officially formed last Saturday.
President Peter 'Ossie' Osborne "turned around and scrambled the troops," when told about the ride, Paul said.
"There's a network of social bike riders in Gladstone and we often go out and support one another's causes," he said.
"We all ride together and help each other out with charities... it's very promising to see people turn out from all different backgrounds."
They were even joined by a local classic car club.
While the group stopped for a drink at the Royal Hotel, Ossie had one last surprise for Tom.
Having passed around the hat, all the bikers present had managed to raise $753.25 to cover the cost of some of his medication - which is not yet covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
If you wish to donate to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, you can call 1800 220 099.