I just received my survivor jersey. I don't believe I have ever thought of those two words together in a sentence before. Survivor. Jersey.
Survivor. Honestly, I struggle with referring to myself as a cancer survivor. My journey was blessed with a treatment that began with the skilled hands of my surgeon conscientiously removing every bit of cancer. Followed by my oncologist offering "You can now officially say you had cancer." I didn't feel like a victim. Really. To me, "survivor" brings to mind the will of the human spirit to overcome horrible atrocities. This wasn't that.
The next challenge was to do what we could to prevent a recurrence. Three months of chemotherapy followed by radiation to eradicate any cells that might be hiding in my body and then a daily tablet of a hormone blocker for five years. Ok, I admit the time spent with doctors and treatment seemed a little bit like a part-time job. Fortunately, my job can be flexible. Yes, fatigue sets in while your body is trying to recover. But I had new experiences like learning to style my hair while I wasn't wearing it on my head. Or have areas of my breast that haven't seen much sun become tanner than I have ever been able to achieve on a beach. And my blood pressure was up which I had never experienced before. So this is where things all began to intersect to inspire me to ride.
Jersey. Shortly after I completed radiation treatment I began cycling at an indoor cycle club. The cardio would strengthen my heart and I hoped it would get my blood pressure back where I like it, normal. I liked the classes and the club environment and within months my blood pressure was down. I felt like I was getting myself back in order. I lost some weight and just felt better.
About a year ago, my son Adam committed to riding 100 miles in the Pelotonia with his Uncle Ben and Aunt Lynn and about 8000 other riders to raise money for cancer research. Wow, it sounded like a huge challenge. I ride 15 miles in spin class.
Not all cancer patients have a journey like mine. Many endure months and even years of treatment, some successful, some not so. Ben and Lynn were riding, in part, because Ben is a cancer survivor too. His journey was brutal. He shares openly about how it changed him and how he has found his purpose. And there was Jessica.
Jessica is Adam's cousin. She is battling stage 4 triple-negative breast cancer and has had a long, difficult journey. I don't believe Adam, Ben, Lynn, or Kevin needed any more of a reason to ride. The Peloton was formed and they rode.
Doug and I were at the finish line in Gambier, Ohio to celebrate the accomplishment with the team. As we all shared food and drink they talked about all of the supporters along the route from Columbus to Gambier. About the inspirational, and sometimes humorous signs. About the comradery. But when I realized who's names Adam had written on the back of his legs I was committed. Within weeks Doug and I had new bikes and were riding the trails around Mongomery County.
Hope. Just as Adam rode for Jessica and me, Doug and I will join the team to ride this year for Jessica. I'll wear my survivor jersey while I train this summer. Our team jerseys read Hope for Jessica on a pink ribbon fashioned into the shape of a cross. My goal is to raise $2000 for cancer research... and for hope.