Why I Ride...
This is my 5th Tour de Pier and in each year, my motivation to ride has been unique. During the inaugural year, I rode as a supporter. My close friends had lost family members to cancer and I wanted to support them in our collaborative quest to raise funds to fight the #2 cause of death in the US. As I watched all those riding in honor of a loved one, I felt proud to be part of a “movement” to support so many whose lives have been impacted by cancer. I was also thankful to be healthy and able to ride for the cause. When Michael yelled to the crowd, “We ride for the supporters!” I thought “Hell, yeah. I am a supporter!”
Over the course of the following year, I lost my mentor and close friend, Bud, to cancer. He fought a tremendous fight but in the end, he lost. My heart ached as he endured procedure after procedure, drug after drug, treatment after treatment. I was still a supporter, but this time it was personal; In year 2, I wanted to ride in his name with the strength and will that he had demonstrated throughout his battle.
One month later, during a routine mammogram, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. There was no history of breast cancer in my family and in 20+ years of regular exams, I had never been called back for any type of secondary screening. Given the timing, clearly the tumor had silently resided inside of me while I was riding the TdP.
My perspective lens became crystal clear. I recognized the long path ahead and sought to remove all obstacles that could possibly detract and distract. I embarked on an education process that needed to occur at warp speed, and in doing so learned more about cancer in 10 days than I had learned in a lifetime being on the sidelines. When I rode in Year 3, I rode as a hopeful Survivor. In the fourth hour of the ride, when the survivors were asked to come up to the stage, I remained on my bike. My friend Michael came over to get me off the bike. I was overwhelmed with a new depth of acceptance and emotion. The photo posted above is that very moment when I finally allowed a year’s worth of emotion to come to the surface.
Year 4 came around and I wasn’t sure if I could ride all 5 hours. Fully at the mercy of the after- surgery, prevent-recurrence drug routine, I found myself riding for all the survivors that continue their battle each day. The fight will last a lifetime. My awareness of the ongoing process and respect for those who continue their battle were at the forefront of my mind.
So why am I riding in year 5? Throughout the entire process of my battle, cancer has given me an incredible gift of support. Friends, family, colleagues and doctors continue to rally around me, directing positive energy and what seems like never ending love and insight; their acts of kindness have changed me forever. My relationships are stronger, my empathy deeper, my knowledge wider and my life fuller. In year 1, I rode as a supporter. In year 5, I am riding for the supporters. I truly believe that support, knowledge and positive energy are the most powerful weapons in winning the fight.
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