Nearly all of us have these dates that are burned into our memory banks. The obvious ones are the days that we got married or the days our kids were born. Other days stick because of their historic significance. Some of these days are sad, as we mark the loss of a loved one. It is on these days when we often are perhaps our most contemplative and reflective. We try to understand where we have been and were we are going, and perhaps, if we are lucky, we can understand the path that we have followed.
Today is one of these days for me. As I have mentioned in this space many times before…. the picture below shows me as I am getting ready to receive my 12th and final chemo treatment five years ago today. I have friends who celebrate their birthday today and know of a few couples who celebrate their anniversaries. But today, this day will always be one of reflection, mixed with happiness and remorse. As we move into this new era of not being actively monitored, obviously there is a joy of survival. But the memories of those who have passed from cancer, the images of the children that I saw each week while getting radiation 20 years ago, the conversations I had with fellow patients who were parents and grandparents – those are etched in my mind as well, a ongoing reminder that my mission to beat cancer did not end on this day five years ago, but that it had only just begun.
This year, as I have been sharing my 20th and 5th year anniversaries of my cancer treatments, I have received tremendous support, both emotionally and in terms of donations made to my PMC ride. Donors to my ride have been more generous than ever, contributing over $9,000 to the PMC and Dana Farber this year. And the PMC team that I am so proud to be on has also received unprecedented support this year, as we have already surpassed our team goal and eclipsed $500,000 in total donations brought in. But this PMC event, for me, is more than the money. There is a passion, a commitment, that is common among the PMC ridership that I cherish – we are all motivated to see the day when cancer is no longer the formidable foe that it has been for all of human existence. I share a bond with an even more select group of the ridership who have experienced cancer first hand and, this year, have had more interesting conversations with my fellow Living Proof riders than ever before. It is our shared desire and commitment towards this goal that pushes me onward.
There were days this summer, in the midst of training for the PMC, when I was questioning whether or not my tenth would be my last. Or if I should at least take a break. But then to be around the riders, the Living Proof, and my teammates for an entire weekend – those thoughts quickly were swept away, knowing that our work is not yet done. That work that I committed to be a part of when I left the oncology ward five years ago today – to end cancer in our lifetime. My part is small, to provide some motivation and inspiration to fund the research for the cures. But it is my part, my mission, my passion, my commitment.
I will end this ramble by sharing a quote I took from a speaker at a conference that has been guiding my vision for my #lifewithcancer moving forward – excited to see what comes of it:
“Do not spend you life trying to prove yourself. Spend your life trying to improve yourself”
Yesterday, Team Forza-G reached a milestone – $500,000 raised this year for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Pan Mass Challenge. Very proud of this achievement by our team of 62 riders. Thanks to all of you who have donated to my ride this year!
If you are reading this and you have made a donation to my #pmc2016 ride across Massachusetts – again, I say thank you! If you have not made a donation yet, here’s the scoop. Next weekend, I am riding my bike 200 miles in 2 days as part of the Pan-Mass Challenge. We are raising money for cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 100% of each donation is tax-deductible and will go to DFCI. Each dollar matters. I ride because I can – I am a two-time cancer survivor. The Dana-Farber is the research center that first found the treatments for Hodgkin s Lymphoma, which I battled. Our goal this year is to raise $46 million and we need some help.
I am asking you to make a donation today. Here’s the link:http://pmc.org/egifts/AS0171. It will take you a few moments. And it’s simple – your donation will save lives.
Please check out my blog for more stories about my cancer journey and my ride.
Today is the 20th anniversary of my first last round of cancer treatment. For those reading who are confused by that last sentence, on July 24, 1996, I received my final radiation treatment as part of my treatment against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was cancer free until the Spring on 2011, when I found a lump and started chemo. So today is the anniversary of the first time I had my last cancer treatment.
Yesterday, I got out for my first 50-mile ride since the spring, due to all the ailments I mentioned in recent posts. Today, Mark and I backed it up with another 55 miles. We got toughened up by some mechanical issues. My 10th PMC is merely two weeks away, I haven’t always loved my time on the bike. Only in the last few years, since my recurrence, have I truly fallen in love with cycling, finding the time on my bike to be a glorious place to think about my situation, my life, the world around us, and to think about the far to many people that I know who are battling cancer or have recently succumbed. I keep looking for more motivation to help inspire me in my fundraising efforts. What I realized today, especially after coming back after today’s ride to learn of the passing of a teammate’s friend, is that I can’t be more motivated or passionate. I, like so many, live and breathe the cause of defeating cancer as quickly as possible. Every day that passes, more lives are lost or changed.
All of this reminds me of what lays ahead of me in two weekends. I will ride my bike 200 miles across Massachusetts and complete my 10th Pan-Mass Challenge.
I ride the PMC for birthdays and anniversaries. I think about all of the birthdays that I have had that without that radiation treatment back in 1996 that I would have missed. And, as every cancer survivor knows, there are lot of anniversaries – the day you were diagnosed, the day you started treatment, the day you finished. And hopefully, the day you found out you were cancer-free.
I write a lot on my birthdays and these anniversaries. I am reminded every day that I am a cancer survivor, but on these days, for some reason it takes on a different meaning. I have not been shy about celebrating my 20th year of beating cancer the first time, my 10th Pan Mass Challenge ride, and my 5th year cancer-free since round 2 in 2011. I am proud to be Living Proof that all the research that this ride and many other worthy events has funded and I share all of these things with the world with the hope that the momentum we have in defeating this disease will continue until the job is done.
Since I started this post, odds are, someone was told that they had cancer. I know that they are probably very afraid and scared of what is to come. We all have the opportunity to create cures for cancers. I got one. Then I got another one. Not everyone does. Please give the gift of life today by contributing and sponsoring research and treatment at the ground-breaking Dana-Farber Cancer Institute! Click here to donate.
With the flurry of donations coming this week to my Pan-Mass Challenge, the total amount that has been contributed in the past 10 years today surpassed $70,000.
I am supremely humbled by the selfless contributions made by my friends, family, co-workers, fellow cancer survivors, and acquaintances so that future generations can live in a cancer-free world. You have all made a difference, you have helped saved lives.
I know this, because this sort of generosity funded the research for the treatments that I received 20 years ago and again 5 years ago.
Thank you to all of you who have supported my efforts already and to all of you will.
And as a reminder of the importance of this effort and our cause to end cancer, I share a note I received from a dear family friend and PMC donor, that I received earlier this evening:
Two more names to add to the fighting the damn cancer list. Keep fighting the good fight. That list just keeps getting longer and longer.
While we have travelled a long way on this journey, and many victories have been won, we can’t stop, we won’t stop until we can say that cancer is no longer a scourge, no longer fatal, and no longer devastating.
I hope that you are enjoying your summer. At our house, we have a house full of cyclists. Last year, Michele got a new road bike and has been enjoying going for training rides with me in Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and California. Our daughter Shannon has become a strong rider as well. She’s already up to 6 miles, is climbing some big hills on her single-speed bike, and has been asking me about PMC Kids rides already. They both got to go on some fun rides in Massachusetts earlier this summer with Michele’s dad, Norm, who will be riding his second PMC next month.
I personally seem to be hitting a number of minor bumps on the road to my 10th PMC, which will be the first weekend in August. I have been sidelined three different times this summer already by a variety of injuries. While my training has been slowed, my focus and dedication to the cause of helping create a world without cancer is razor-sharp. My passion has been re-sparked as another dear friend was lost to a cancer recurrence.
I continue to be humbled by the support that you and so many others have given to my effort in the past – the grand total raised by my rides over the last ten years is getting close to $70,000. That is a total that I never would have imagined reaching when I started this a decade ago.
Together We are Making a Difference
I am pleased to include a link to a 5-minute video that explains where the PMC money goes featuring Dana-Farber Cancer Institute President & CEO, Edward Benz, discussing the PMC’s impact on advancing cancer research and improving patient care.
I hope that you will help us make a bigger difference than ever. Because every penny matters, 100 percent of your donation will go to DFCI.
I hope I can count on your support again
I often think back and remember what I can about that summer 5 years ago when my cancer returned. And the long road back to health. My recovery and the fact that I can even ride in this event is because of the research done at Dana-Farber decades ago that found the first effective therapies against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The PMC in so many ways helped me get my life back after cancer. Without the PMC and Dana-Farber, I don’t know if I would have had that chance.
I’ve made a personal commitment to ride this year’s PMC and raise $10,000. I hope you can help me achieve this significant goal.