Awareness-raising Bike Ride in The Netherlands Connected Hospitals, Patients

Awareness-raising Bike Ride in The Netherlands Connected Hospitals, Patients

Patient Advocacy & Survivorship
Jun 18, 2021
Ilima Loomis
White Ribbon Update

Patients and supporters cycled nearly 1,150 kilometers through The Netherlands on May 21, 2021 in a “White Ribbon Tour” to raise awareness for lung cancer. 

The grassroots event was organized by Niels Harthoorn, age 22, an industrial engineering and management student at the University of Twente, and a patient with lung cancer. For the ride, small groups of up to four people, including patients, family members, students, and physicians, rode or walked from one hospital to the next, delivering white ribbons to patients and family members along the route, as well as handmade white ribbon signs to the hospitals. 

The tour, which started in Zeeland and moved north to Groningen before crossing back down to the city of Maastricht, encompassed 35 hospitals across 27 cities—tracing an enormous white ribbon across the entire country. Each hospital publicized its portion of the event through local news coverage and social media to help raise awareness.

Mr. Harthoorn was diagnosed at age 20 with ALK-translocated NSCLC and is being treated at Erasmus UMC in Rotterdam. He received his white ribbon from a patient in the United States with lung cancer in recognition for his work as a patient advocate, making him the first white ribbon recipient in The Netherlands.

Niels Harthoorn


Mr. Harthoorn said his inspiration for the ride was to raise awareness for lung cancer. “With this event, we wanted to share all of the stories of patients, caregivers, and doctors, to remove the stigma and (call attention to) the need for more research for better treatments,  hopefully leading to a cure for everyone with lung cancer,” he said. 

Mr. Harthoorn and his fellow organizers will not stop their work anytime soon. After the ride, they plan to raise funds for the Center for Personalized Cancer Treatment (CPCT) by participating in the Stelvio for Life charity bike ride. The event on August 28 involves a spectacular 21-kilometer bike ride to the summit of Stelvio Pass in northern Italy. Participants commit to raising at least €1 for every meter of elevation they climb. Money raised goes to support CPCT research.


About the Authors

Ilima Loomis