Ever since I heard about the Less Cancer Bike Ride to Mackinac I have wanted to participate. Unfortunately last year I couldn’t be there but I made a vow then to ride this year – no matter what.
Some circumstances in my life have tested my ability to make good on that vow, but I will be there pedaling my way from Port Huron to Mackinac to honor the people in my life who I love who have fought long, grueling, heroic battles against the scourge of cancer.
Their courage inspires me every day as I live my life with a newly shaped body. When I returned from the reporting trip where I lost my left arm, one of the first things I set out to do was find a way to get back on my bicycle, and ultimately, ride for Less Cancer.
I have always loved cycling. I will never forget the birthday when my father came home with a Schwinn “Pea Picker” in the trunk of his car. I loved that bike so much and spent most of my summer days riding it up and down the streets of my home outside of Detroit.
When I outgrew the Pea Picker, I found myself on an aqua blue Schwinn Super Sport, which I also loved dearly, rode everywhere and used to learn the nuances of bicycle repair (the moment when all the ball bearings inside my rear axle bounced onto the floor my basement is a memory that still sticks of with me!).
In my adult years, I found myself riding in triathlons and just for the sheer pleasure of it. A few years ago I completed the Pan Mass challenge – a two-day ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown, MA. It is a fundraiser for the Dana-Farber Cancer Center and riding past the young people – many of them bald – holding signs of encouragement was a moving experience I will never forget.
I will be riding with them in mind and so many others who must face cancer every day. Losing an arm is not easy, and learning how to ride a bike with one arm has been a challenge that has left me with a fair amount of road rash already. But I don’t have to live with the dread disease that hangs like a sort of Damocles over my life. Seeing the people I love deal with that with grace, courage and humor is what inspires me.
It won’t be easy, but when it gets hard that is what I will think of. I am certain that will get me through.