In June I will participate in a fund-raising bike ride for cancer research. This will not be an easy thing. The goal is to complete 140 miles in seven hours. That includes rest stops and lunch. Last year I participated as part of a support crew for my sister as she participated in this event. I watched her climb mountains and overcome physical obstacles and boundaries during this day-long event. Many times she was behind the rest of the pack, and it was during those moments as I watched her fight to overcome physical limitations that I vowed that she shouldn’t have to go through that on her own. I determined that day that I would ride alongside her the next time. She had enough battles to overcome as she fought cancer, and while we helped her the best we could during that fight, there are other things I can help her with directly.
We are making it a family event as much as we can. Another sister and cancer survivor is also riding. One of our other sisters will be part of the support crew, and there will be children and nieces and nephews along the way too.
Until that day, there is training to be done. Lots and lots of training. And fundraising. Many people have already contributed, and for that I am grateful and humbled. The day will be a tough one, but I will carry with me the memory of people I know who have also battled cancer. Some lost their own battles, but I don't believe the war is over. It will be a tough day, yes. It will be a fulfilling day, definitely.
Here are some of the people I will carry with me (and hopefully they will provide a nice tailwind!):
My Aunt Effie was my favorite aunt. "Favorite" because she took a genuine interest in me and treated me like an equal. "Was" because she was taken by breast cancer in 1983.
My Grandma McBride. She was the only grandparent I knew. To a young child she embodied stern old-fashioned values, but radiated a gentle love for her family. I watched her undergo radiation treatments for a cancer on her throat/neck. She was killed by cancer in 1974. I was seven.
My friend Jamie Lark. She had brain tumors and breast cancer, but couldn't beatovarian cancer. It was too soon for all of us, except for perhaps her. I imagine that after living a life of pain and too much time spent in hospitals and doctors' offices she was probably happy to go.
My friend Jill was killed by lung cancer. She never smoked a cigarette in her life, nor was she ever around them. It is an indiscriminate killer.
My dad had colon cancer, prostate cancer, and skin cancer. Remarkably, it was old age and missing his wife that got him.
My friend Emily Barnett was 15 years old when she was diagnosed with a malignant, cancerous brain tumor. Now 17she has optimistically and cautiously been declared cancer-free.
My sister Louise is a skin cancer survivor. My sister Neva is a breast cancer survivor. I will proudly ride alongside and with both of them.
There are numerous others I know who have been affected by cancer:
Margaret - brain tumors and breast cancer.
Karen - breast cancer.
My friend Valary's mom and her niece - both killed by breast cancer.
My friend Wendy's mom - killed by breast cancer.
I ride because someday it could be me.
I ride because someday it could be you.
(For anyone interested in donating, it's 100% tax-deductible. Follow this link.)
Here is the video I put together last year of my sister's ride.