We drove out of Columbus toward home. Moving a little slow and happy to have that latte, but still glowing with a sense of accomplishment. What an incredible experience. Pelotonia 2018.
On Saturday morning before dawn, we wrote the names of those we were riding for in red Sharpie on the backs of our legs. We all know someone who has or has had cancer. Janice was still at The James following lung cancer surgery the previous day. She is now home and doing well. We now know one of our fellow riders was her surgeon. Life-saving lung cancer surgery on Friday, 100 miles Saturday, maybe a little late for rounds on Sunday morning. We understand why.
Jessica joined in the festivities on Friday night and on Saturday she met us at the lunch stop and was waving us on in Granville. She, and her mom Lisa, and her oldest son Ethan picked me up at the Granville stop. We drove to the finish line and waited for the team to ride in. Jessica is being treated at The James too. I can only imagine some of her medical team rode as well.
One of our team members, Cody, rode 55 miles. The last 55 of the course. Those are the hills I decided to avoid. I also suspect he had very little time to invest in training. He gritted it out because Jessica is his wife and mother to his four young children. I can only imagine what was going through his mind as the hills got steeper. I am incredibly proud of him.
Of 8470 riders 836 are survivors. That’s almost 10 percent. Our team of nine riders included two survivors, Ben Hartings and me. Ben said he ran into his surgeon at Pelotonia as well. He said he sees him every year. This is Ben’s third Pelotonia. The National Cancer Institute says approximately 38.4% of adults will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2013–2015 data) and there were an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States, just short of 5% of the population. Pelotonia survivor riders are clearly motivated for the cause.
Friends have been checking in all week to tell us they want to ride next year. How awesome is that?
Throughout the week Doug and I would randomly fist-bumped in acknowledgment of the accomplishment. In the car. At the office. Nothing needs to be said. We both knew what it meant. Something we didn’t share with our teammates over the weekend was that I was scheduled for a biopsy on Thursday morning. Not that we intentionally didn’t tell them, but our motto through all of this has been “ Don’t worry until we know there is really something to worry about.” I have had two other biopsies since the cancer treatment that turned out to be cysts and thus nothing to worry about. I know each of my mammograms is scrutinized carefully by the breast care team. I love that about them.
On Thursday, after more mammograms and evaluation the radiologist decided a biopsy wasn’t necessary after all. They brought Doug in to show him the mammograms too. I am glad they did because it is hard to describe until you have seen one. As it was explained, spotting cancer on a mammogram is like looking for a polar bear in a snowstorm.
I dressed, and as we walked out of Kettering Breast Center we gave each other a look signifying the fist pump we would have done if we weren’t in the public lobby of Kettering Cancer Care. As we turned toward the hall who do we see but a long-time friend and personal trainer, Ben Heal. Ben is one of those people who is always positive, always smiling and engaging, and greeted us in his typical style. He quickly offered that his wife Sasha was just around the corner.
We were aware Sasha had struggled through several complications following cancer surgery and her radiation and chemo had been delayed. I gave her a hug and we exchanged updates. Good news, her treatment can begin next week. I can see Ben’s signature attitude reflected in her. Sasha is positive and smiling and rolling with what comes. The best way to handle cancer.
As we walked to the car, I thought, wow, we should have written her name in red Sharpie on our legs too. But we couldn't have possibly written all the names. The reality is we rode for so many more people in our lives than the few names written in red sharpie on our legs.