Nick Geddes watched silently, as the dying golden sun streaked across the April sky — its rays slowly dipping below the Pacific Ocean's California horizon, heralding the end of another day.
But this wasn't just another day for Nick. It was April 15, 2011. He was watching that sunset from start to finish out of the back of an ambulance as it rushed him down the iconic west coast road from Monterey to San Francisco.
The everyday spectacle — the sun hugging the world in its last warm embrace — was more moving than any sunset Nick had ever seen in his 17 years.
And then it hit him; he had never truly watched a sunset before, not from start to finish, from complete daylight to utter darkness, for hours.
"I realized that I've never watched a sunset before," he said.
Just hours before the Whistler high school student had been told he had leukemia; the cancer was in 94 per cent of his bone marrow.
In that instant his world changed.
"It was like going from everything was normal, sitting on a bike to being in quarantine, can't leave this room, wearing masks," recalls Nick of that moment in time a year ago.
"It was two separate worlds in the course of five minutes."
Looking out at that sunset just beyond the square ambulance windows, Nick was facing the unthinkable — an uncertain, terrifying future.
Sunsets have a way of looking differently after that.
"Mom, I just want to ride my bike."
The words cut into Lisa Geddes like a knife as she sat in Nick's hospital room at Stanford's Children's Hospital, thousands of miles away from home.
She had just rushed from Vancouver to San Francisco, joining her husband Bill at their son's bedside.
"It's just heart-breaking as a parent because you just want your kids to do whatever they want to do," recalls Lisa of that day just over a year ago.
Nick was doing just that — golden boy, with a mop of curly blond hair, on the verge of something big.
He was one of the best downhill mountain bikers in Canada, named 2010 Canadian Junior Downhill champion.
He was two months away from his high school graduation with eyes on the engineering program at UBC.
The next chapter in his life was yet to be written, but it was setting up to be a good story to tell.
Leukemia was never supposed to be a part of the tale.
Sitting in his living room in his Alpine home last week, Nick opens up. His mother Lisa is beside him, dad Bill in the background.
His younger brother Zander is out and his ten-year-old sister Sarah is upstairs. Dinner is in the oven — normal everyday life ticking on.
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