Sunday, September 13, 2009
In my previous blog - I talked about the bike ride 'spokes of hope'. The first spokes of hope is currently taking place. Because of my planned vacation to Europe I cold not be part of it. However, next year I will be.
Spokes of hope was conceived by my friend, cyclists extraordinaire (national champion and state champion) and breast cancer survivor. It is a bike ride which will start from different parts of the country and end at the National Cancer Institute - and then with the participants proceed to Capitol Hill with the purpose of advocate for cancer care and survivorship.
Below is a very emotional (warning) account of why we are riding for spokes of hope, and trust me - I will be there next year to meet the Michelle's out there and to say 'fight like hell'. By the way the author is a 20 year survivor of brain cancer.
livestrong & ride2live
Rather than tell you about the entire day I want to share the one piece that shook me to my core. Our group had ridden to the third stop of the day. We were visiting the cancer center in a west side hospital. We had the SoH banner out for all to sign, Livestrong bracelets ready to handout and our "army" ready to go into action.
It was here that I met a beautiful 22 year old woman named Michelle. She slowly walked into the room wearing PJ's and socks. Only a few strings of blond hair stuck out from her blue bandana. Her face was pale and blood was visible in the whites of her eyes. Her hands and body could not stop shaking. She was so quiet and soft spoken. It was difficult to hear her when she spoke but when she did I hung on every word.
Michelle is battling Leukemia and recovering from a bone marrow transplant. After talking for a while I gave her one of the bracelets and then asked if she would like to sign the banner so she could "go with us to DC." She agreed and we walked slowly over to the banner where she got to meet Cindi.
The three of us sat in front of the banner and we all talked. Michelle is the mother of a three year old boy, David. She has not seen him for months. The doctors have not allowed the visit due to the possible passing of germs. She was so sad. Her heart was broken, her body was broken and almost to the point that her spirit was broken. As a parent, I hate to be away from Aneshka when I go out of town. This trip alone is for more than a week and I miss her so much. I cannot imagine being denied the hugs, kisses and whispers of, "I love you, Daddy." Especially during a time of struggle, when you need those the most.
Cindi was talking about cycling and I asked Michelle what she did for physical activity. She said, "nothing." I told her that just getting up and walking was going to help her heal and feel better. She told me that she was not walking much. It clicked for me and I told her that if she started to walk more, the quicker she would heal and thus the sooner she would have David in her arms again. She smiled. As I teared up I told that you have to find your reason to fight and for her it was her son, David. You have to get up everyday and " Fight like hell" I told her. Her way of fighting could be as simple as walking often.
Before she got up to make a visit to her room Cindi offered her one of the SoH cycling caps. Michelle quickly pulled of her bandana and let Cindi slide on her new fashion piece. Michelle smiled.
As she walked out I started to talk with another group. I had just gotten into a conversation with this group when Michelle slowly made her way back into the room. Both Cindi and I were talking elsewhere so Michelle sat down alone. I watched from the corner of my eye and could see she was sad. We were just finishing our conversation when I saw Michelle making her way to the door. I was blessed with hugs and handshakes from my new friends and then bolted for the door. Michelle seemed to be slowly dragging herself down the hall.
I walked up to her and told that it was pleasure meeting her and that she would be in my heart and mind this entire trip to DC. She put her weak arms around me and gave my a tremendous hug. Almost like a death grip. She didn't let go and started to cry on my chest. As tears started to flow from my eyes I spoke softly into her left ear. "Fight for David. Fight for yourself. Fight like hell!" Every care, problem or issue in my life disappeared at that moment. All I could think of was the pain Michelle was going through and how much I wanted her to beat the cancer, feel better and be with her son.
We said our goodbyes and I went back into the room with the banner. Our time was winding down so we moved chairs back into place rolled up the banner and made our way out the door. I was not ready to get on the elevator. I so wanted to find Michelle and say something profound, motivate her or just be there for her. I looked down the hallway wondering which room was hers. As bodies moved through doors and adjacent hallways I saw the yellow and black cycling cap at the end of the hall. She looked weak and exhausted. She looked sad and scared. But none of that mattered because she was walking. I waved and she did not see me so I moved and waved again. She lifted up her right hand just a little bit and nodded her head softly. She was up and fighting.
I have been an emotional wreck since meeting Michelle. Jay, one of the great people on this SoH tour, told me why I feel this way. "Because everyone we have met so far has been a person. Michelle was a patient.". He is right. I also believe the her pain reminds me of my past and makes me look deep inside myself as I step into this new battle with the two new tumors. Meeting Michelle is another reminder for me to "Fight like hell!"
The Spokes of Hope Tour started out for me as a celebration of my 20th anniversary as a survivor. It is so much more than that. Along with taking the advocacy and awareness issue to DC we have the opportunity to touch the lives of others going through this battle. We can help them by listening to their concerns, sharing or experiences and just simply showing that we care. We can help them by showing everyone that cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence. We can help them by giving them hope. Hope is contagious (as proudly displayed on our banner). We can help them by leading by example. That means each one of us is out there "Fighting like hell!"
Thank you for letting me spill my thoughts and emotions. I know this was long but I needed to share it. Today really hit me hard and writing this has helped me find some balance again. Tomorrow, as I struggle up hills on my bike I will be thinking of Michelle walking down that hallway and being few steps closer to hugging her son. That's the motivation for me to pedal my way to DC.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Friends, we are only about 4 months away from new year, and it is 2010, and I am beginning to look into goals for next year.
First, I have been fortunate to have raised $7000 for the leukemia and lymphoma society to date. The money has been raised by a consulting for a company.
So what do I want to do. Well, on my bucket list is doing half an ironman before the aga of 60. Well, it is getting closer and closer, so that is the first goal, and since I have the money raised - I can sign up and focus on my training. (my swim leaves a lot to be desired).
The second goal is to participate in a bike ride called 'spokes of hope". Spokes of hope was conceived at the Lance Armstrong Foundation Summit in Columbus last year, and it is cyclists coming from across the country into DC - actually the first point of contact will be the national cancer institute and then on as a peleton (the entire group) into Capitol Hill.
I am planning on creating a spoke in Cleveland and ride to Pittsburgh, join the spoke there, and do the ride to DC ... with a modification of Lance's words - Cancer picked a fight with the wrong team.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Today was the "perfect 10 miler". I ran it last year for the first time and was joined by two friends. The weather was great, and I felt I did OK - plus - we had a good time. Lunch afterwards.
This year one of those friends were on (a well deserved) vacation with her family, and one was unable to come for a number of reasons, and to top it off - she tripped/fell and got hurt on Friday night. So, I was all by my lonesome ... sorta - with about 700 other people running the event.
The weather was great, although hot (for Cleveland) mid-seventies @ gun time, and it climbed 10 degrees during the race. I started in the middle of the pack. I had decided to have an extra water bottle in a fanny pack + one in my hand to make sure I was well hydrated. However, I did not feel I ran as fast, but my Garmin said 9:02 min mile. I got rid of the bottle I carried in my hand and I felt 'liberated'. As I kept going, I felt I had a comfortable pace. I drank H20 at all the stations - which was every mile. At mile 5 I had a bottle from my Fuel Belt with HEED (carb + electrolytes) and at mile 7-ish I drank another bottle of Perpetuem (sportsdrink with protein, carb, and electrolytes). and I felt really good for the remainder of the race. I kept going ... AND as I crossed the finish line 1:38:02 OR 15 ... FIFTEEN minutes faster than last year. Am I proud of my accomplishment this morning - you bet I am.
I am not sure what made me run faster, but one thing I can tell you - what is making a huge difference in my running and bicycling is that I have taken a serious look at what I eat and drink, and I am becoming much more generous with the calories I take in during the event. It has worked well for me earlier this year when I ran the Cleveland marathon, and when I rode the Tahoe ride, and now with a 10 miler. Most of us have an idea what we burn in calories, and I have used the concept of replacing 1/3 of the calories during the event, and it seem drinking water at every waterstop works too.
Now what you should ingest - varies from person to person. I happen to have found some products I like - it is the product (content - read the label), I like the taste, and I like the texture (some can get chalky, and some of the carb products to me are like cake frosting). However, it has taken me some reading to get to this point (sorry if you are a seasoned runner, cyclist, or triathlete - I have friends who are beginners.
One of my wishes for this year is a half marathon sub 2hr. After today - I think it is within reach.
Runstrong my friends
- three disciplines - one mission - one goal
Friday, August 07, 2009
I am not sure how many are behind this (I know of one), but I am incredibly humbled and honored to have receive the email that I am being named a 'spark motivator'.
I don't think you realize what it feels like to be recognized like this. I think all of you are motivating me more than I am motivating you, and I am glad our roads met and we can take this journey and be supportive of each other.
The journey to become healthy has just begun ...
Love while you have love to give
Live while you have life to live (Kumbel)
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Well fellow sparkers here is some news - not much but news.
I found out I was not eligible for the study. As you know criteria for studies are strict and my HDL was 0.1 outside the criteria. Oh well.
My weight is stagnating - looking at what I can do.
I am running and riding a lot. I have had to take a break in the swimming, as I have an ear issue, and the MD has banned me from the pool.
Weather permitting - a 50 mile flat ride this weekend, next a 10 mile run, and the last weekend, it is the OROC (outrun ovarian cancer) run, and then soon two weeks of vacation....
Will update the blog again with the plans for the fall.
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