Friday, August 20, 2010

For Whom I'm Riding (or "Who I'm Riding For" if you don't speak English)

 Hi Everyone: First, I have to tell you how humbled I am by the incredibly generous support from friends, family, and colleagues for the Livestrong Challenge in Philly this Sunday. I started with a fundraising goal of $1,000 and blew through that in an hour.  I kept bumping up the goal and you guys just kept on giving.  As I write this, my fundraising total is at an incredible $4, 685.  Unbelievable.

 I've mapped the ride and I'm really looking forward to the 6% grade climb at mile 34 and the 7% grade climb at mile 62 (NOT!).  Thanks goodness I did the mountain training in Vermont back in July, or I think I might have had a nervous breakdown looking at this map.

Fun stuff to be sure.  Seriously, I know that this weekend is going to be quite moving for Kathleen and me.  We're going to a dinner for top fundraisers tomorrow night and will get to meet Lance Armstrong, an incredible honor given how his example inspired me and gave me hope in the darkest days of my cancer fight.

But the story I want to tell you now is about the people who will be on my mind as I suffer on those hills, people who have bravely confronted their own hills, suffered and spat in suffering's eye.  I shaved my legs this morning, partly because that's what we bike racers do (it makes changing the dressing on road rash much easier if you crash) but mostly because I intend to write the names of each of these people in a green sharpie on my legs on Sunday morning before I ride:

  • My friend and Bridgespan colleague Bob, who's daughter Nora has made all of us look like whimps as she confronts a nasty form of cancer and keeps her chin up every day.
  • Another Bridgespaner, Nan, who stood up to breast cancer.
  • Our friend, mentor, and fellow cyclist Carl, who discovered a rare form of cancer on his liver as the result of a biking accident and is now fighting like hell, the only way he knows.
  • My friend Deb, cancer-free and strong (and funny) as hell.
  • My Uncle John, a two-time cancer survivor.
  • My dear friend Bruce, who visited me for each of my hospital stays as he fought his own battle with prostate cancer.
  • My friend Randal, another prostate survivor.
  • Our friend Michale, yet another prostate survivor and frustrated stand-up comic.
  • My college friend, Kathy, who has courageously fought breast cancer and is now working day by day to regain her strength.
  • My mother-in-law, Maureen, survivor of two bouts with cancer.
  • Our friend Barb, who was such an amazing friend and supporter throughout my treatment, and who just learned that her dad has been diagnosed and who lost her mom to breast cancer at 54.
  • Kathleen's cousin, Bryan, who has been living with multiple myeloma for more than a decade through TWO bone marrow transplants.
  • My brother-in-law's dear friend, Mark, another myeloma survivor, with whom I biked the Boston marathon course this April.
  • My college friend Bill's sister, Kathy, who passed away several years ago but is still remembered every day by her brother and whose legacy is carried on in the work of the foundation that bears her name.
  • My friend Sarah's dear friend Cindy, who died of breast cancer at 34, leaving behind two young daughters, who are in college now.
  • Kathleen's cousin Diane, remembered by her brother Matthew,  who succumbed to lymphoma at 29.
My legs are bare tonight, but there will be green sharpie all over them on Sunday, not that I need that reminder to keep these brave and inspiring stories in my mind as I climb those steep hills.  Thank you one and all.



Kieran said...

Thanks so much for all your hard work - ride for all us us schlumps who couldn't keep up with you even when you were sick!!

Anonymous said...

your blog came up on mantle cell alerts tonight. i was declared in remission last week, on my 5th month of chemo. congrats on your ride tomorrow, your spirit, your health, your shaved legs! i've learned mcl is not the doom sentence i feared 2 years ago. look at us, both still going. i'm 55 and grateful. good luck on your ride. may the wind be at your back.

SMP said...

Christopher: I saw your post (and notification of your contribution!) at 5:30 yesterday morning as I was preparing to go out and ride. To have a complete stranger, linked in arms to me by MCL, reach at that moment was both chilling and inspiring. You brought tears to my eyes, and you were very much on my mind as I battled the rain and hills yesterday. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Steve, seeing your note tonight i know you completed the ride, even through storms. congratulations! i had not read all your previous posts till today. you did the battle. i'm completing protocol developed by dr. elliot epner, now at hershey cancer institute. also dx stage 4 in 08 but did the watch and wait till this april. feeling that chemo "fog" this week but last round in sept. and remission is a wonderful word. i am honored to donate to your ride and join in the fight. best to you in the journey. christopher

K B Wells said...

I am honored to have my name in sharpie on your shaven legs! Not only did you enter the race, you owned it just like your MCL! Way to go!