Early last month, I was able to finish my comeback from cancer by riding the entire 192-mile Pan Mass Challenge. It was a long journey back, one that I believe started, not in Sturbridge on a Saturday morning in August, but when I completed my chemotherapy treatment.
Today is the second anniversary of that day when I last walked out of the Kimmel Cancer Center here in Baltimore with thoughts of getting my life ‘back to normal’.
As my I wrote last year on this day, much of that first year was a blur, and there were many difficult times. My recovery was long and slow. And I would say now, looking back, that the entire year of 2012 was a long and painful year of recovery. When the calendar changed to 2013, I had no idea what lay ahead. Was I ready to return to my normal life? How much had cancer and chemo changed my energy level, my memory, my attitude, my spirit?
So, now that this milestone day has come, where am I?
This year’s PMC was proof that I am physically recovered from chemo. I had my best two days ever on a bicycle. The unclear days of 2012 are gone. I am able to maintain my focus and concentration throughout the day. My oncologist tells me that I am boring. I have come to realize that my life, and that of my family, has been topsy-turvy since we moved to Baltimore in early 2010. The final element of this tumult, finding my next job/career, I am now have a plan for and am very actively pursuing.
And I have continued to realize how important the PMC is to me. It has been my goal and beacon for the last two years. It has allowed me to focus my passion for giving back after surviving cancer again. It has given me a clarity of purpose. And it gave me a most precious, emotional memory.
Our daughter Shannon, who will be turning 4 next month, was able to come to our team’s special Pie Stop at Mile 100 of Day 1 of this year’s PMC. Upon my arrival at the rest stop, Shannon stayed right with me. She was very excited, so happy to see me. And she would say that she was proud of me. We had talked a couple of days before about ‘my big ride’ and I tried to explain to her why I was going for this big ride. I felt like that day, in that moment, this little girl was able to understand how important this day was for me and that she really got that we were all riding to help others.
But that wasn’t the moment. It happened just the other day. When, while eating breakfast, as we were talking about her going for a bike ride on her new balance bike, she came over, sat on my lap, and said, in the same voice that she had at the rest stop that was filled with pride, ‘Dad, can I go on your big ride someday?’
And now, in my role as passionate advocate – I will remind you that your last chance to make a donation to the 2013 Pan Mass Challenge and the continuing fight against cancer in my name is this week. The deadline is this week on October 1st! Please donate today! If you have already donated, THANK YOU! I am a little bit more than $1,000 away from my goal this year, so please give $25, $50, $100 to help save lives!
As a TWO-TIME survivor of cancer myself, I can fully attest to the fact that your donation is going to save lives. The fight against the disease of cancer will end on day because of the people who dip into their pockets and make a sacrifice. Your donation, however big or small, will give someone who a chance of cancer. It is not something to be taken casually, like “oh, Andy did his ride again this year so there goes $25, $50, $75, or $100.” Your donation IS GOING TO SAVE LIVES. If it had not been for years and years of research, I would not be writing this post. I’ve now beaten cancer twice because of all the donations of the past. More money is needed to continue the research so that there can be more survivors. I know, as I am sure you do, too many people who are battling this disease. That is why I am riding and doing all this – to help get enough people together to realize, that together, we can help the talented doctors, nurses, and scientists at the Dana-Farber find a cure.