Cancer Is Like Riding A Bike

This is me at approximately mile 6 on that 7 mile climb.

Fact #1:  It is springtime and you have two dozen other friends asking you to donate to their walk, run, mud wrestle or competitive rope climb.

Fact #2:  At some point (maybe even at multiple times) you have questioned the effectiveness of donating money to medical research.  I mean with all the money you yourself have donated, shouldn’t we have a cure for something by now.

Fact #3:  I fought a form of Lymphoma for 2 years that would have killed me in the not so distant past, and instead of dying, I returned to a healthy life and will be there to see my son off to his first day of kindergarten in a few months.

So, this is my pitch to you.  If you are happy that I am still around, find a way to trim your annual budget by $10 (or more) and click right here, and make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Summer Cycling Team.

For anyone just tuning in, here is the back story.  I fought Hodgkins Lymphoma for 8 months in 2009.  But instead of responding in its usual and predictable manner and going into a sustainable remission, my cancer refused to go away.  So my doctors had to resort to what is called Salvage Treatment.  Hardly an encouraging term.  I received a whole lot more chemotherapy called ICE and VTEPA, weeks of mediastinal radiation treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma, and a stem cell transplant in 2010 which is a process of bombarding your body with so much constant chemotherapy that it kills every cancer cell that ever even thought of reproducing. The side effect to this treatment is that it is also very effective in killing the body where the cancer cells live (that means me).  Like a knight in shining medical grade PVC tubing, the previously frozen stem cells are brought in at the last moment to help the body start producing a new supply of white blood cells, platelets and other important stuff.

My point is this.  As recently as the 1970’s this treatment did not exist.  And even well into the 80’s and 90’s the treatment was not reliable on a long term scale. There was a time when transplants were considered successful if you left the hospital alive.

So while the concept of a cancer free world is just a naive fantasy, the research your donations have made possible is providing the cancer fighters in the world with more and more options every year.  More and more chances to live.  More chances to see their children go to kindergarten.

The Georgia Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training Summer Cycle team has made me their Honored Hero this year.  I am proud to serve the role because I am without a doubt, a product of the past fundraising efforts by LLS.  Without the research they have funded, I might have survived the first year, but when the regular treatment failed, I would not have had a plan B to fall back on. And even in today’s world of what we all call modern medicine, there is still a lot that is unknown about cancer. A lot of the treatment relies on having plan B, or Plan C, or D, E, F… A common question for cancer patients to ask their doctor is, “okay, but what if that doesn’t work.”

Cancer is not like a cold or a flu. It will not “run it’s course and then leave you alone.”. It is a battle to the death.

Entering the finish area after 100 miles. Thank you to the doctors, nurses and research who made it possible for me to survive and thrive after cancer

So please consider standing up with my friends who are out there training 3 or more days per week. In a few weeks they are all going to pack their bikes and their spandex and hit the road to Lake Tahoe where they will each attempt to ride 100 miles around the lake in one day. This may sound romantic and beautiful, but it stretches a persons abilities to the breaking point. It is usually cold, the road is not smooth, and it is mountainous. There is a section toward the end where each of these riders will have to continuously pedal uphill for 7 miles. I challenge you to go jump on a bike and ride 7 miles on flat ground. You could do it, but it will take some time and you will feel tired at the end. Now imagine never having a spot to coast, or to spin the pedals freely as momentum carries you. And imagine warming up for that climb brid haunting your body over 70 miles of hills earlier in the day. When I rode with the team last year, I saw a lot of people give up on that climb. They just couldn’t do it anymore. I saw them cry, and I saw them load their bikes into crowded vans that picked up the people who quit, got injured, or whose bikes suffered irreperable damages.

That is what cancer feels like. It is constant pain, constant struggle, and not even knowing if you will make it. You see people who have been fighting with you die, and you wonder if you will join them despite all your efforts to fight. I have great respect for these people who are all trying to raise awareness and money. So please join me in giving a few dollars to them.

All of the donations I collect will be distributed to the fundraising accounts of the members of the cycling team prior to their event. I want them to succeed in their fundraising so that they come back to ride and raise money next season. I never know when I might need whatever treatments they are funding right now.

One thought on “Cancer Is Like Riding A Bike

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