“Why do I ride?”
The simple answer is, “I have lost loved ones to cancer, and I have friends and family who have also dealt with these life challenging experiences.” What this response does not communicate is the level of emotional connection I feel. With this update, I want to try and express these feelings for you.
I have shed tears and I have cried. This happened when I lost my parents and it has happened when I am told by a friend about their loss, or the battles they, or others close to them, are facing. My tears are ones of sympathy and empathy for another human being who must deal with this pain; pain that can last a very long time.
Pain – another way of dealing with the pain
For the past 13 years, riding in the PMC has been a soul cleansing experience for me. I have viewed my preparation and participation in the two-day ride as “going to battle” against cancer. When one goes into battle, one will sometimes get dirty, one might get hurt, however one always remains focused on the goal. For me getting ready to ride in the PMC, I fully accept the lengthy preparation of regular training and the challenge of raising the required funds. Whether it is raining, it is cold, or really cold, like those days when my fingers and toes go numb and when I get in the shower it hurts as the blood returns, or it is hot, or sweltering hot, like the heat wave that went through this summer and tires felt as though they were melting and my skin tingles searching for a wisp of cool air, or during a long ride when my water bottles become empty and there are no Cliff bars in my back pockets, I remind myself of the pain that others are experiencing and I push forward. For me, this expenditure of effort and energy along with the sometimes accompanying pain is one way in which I counter my heart-felt pain, and extend my spiritual energy on behalf of family and friend’s pain.
All of you know someone who has been touched by cancer and this year I was “touched” once again, let me share a couple of moments.
During this year’s fundraising efforts, a former co-worker, Bob, sent me a note informing me of his personal “cancer experience”. Having previously been a recipient of these types of messages I prepared myself to read on.
“This year although the donation is in memory of my brother, Stan, I have now had my own “cancer experience”.
I had a colon resection on May 1st. I’m pleased to report that all seems to indicate a very positive and clean outcome since it was caught early and had very competent and experienced diagnosis and surgery docs working my case.
I now have a lot more intimate perspective and even greater appreciation for people like you who champion the cause of getting to a cure for this disease.
My very best to you for a successful and pleasant ride!! And thanks!!
My cousin, Diana, had not been on the east coast in quite some time. I was looking forward to seeing her. While planning the details of her short visit, she suggested we visit my godparents, Phil and Louise. Family is beyond mother, father, uncle, aunt, grandparents, children, etcetera, and I am confident that we all grow up with “friends of the family” who become “aunts” and “uncles”; this was the case for Diana. Phil and Louise are her favorite uncle and aunt. Sorry to say, I had not visited with my godparents in quite some time, so I looked forward to the visit. I picked Diana up at her godmother’s house. We hugged and smiled, as it was so good to reconnect. A few minutes into our drive, Diana asked, “Did you know that Sylvia has brain cancer?”
My eyes welled. My heart paused. My silence was the only response I could provide to this news. I had no words. Sylvia is one my godparents’ children. She is near my age. “Brain cancer!” My mind and heart tried to handle the news.
My godparents lived with their other daughter and now Sylvia was included under this roof, as she required regular, and loving, care.
I will not go further in describing our visit, except to say, in watching Sylvia be with her children and her family touched my heart further. Upon leaving I exchanged a warm and deep embrace with Sylvia. My heart, mind and soul knew that cancer had once again entered my life and it was personal.
Even as I open up and share my honest thoughts with all of you, I sit here thinking, these words still do not convey the level of passion I have to make a difference. So, I will simply state, for now, I AM living life with passion and I will continue to ride in the PMC in support of the work being done at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
From my heart to yours, I hope you will consider supporting the PMC and “make a difference!“