It was the day that I first became a cancer patient.
I didn’t think back then what life was going to be like when I was 41 years old.
I was just hoping that I’d get to 23.
And now, all these years and one recurrence later, I am still going and committed to helping create a world that is not afraid of cancer. A world that can cure and control cancer once it enters a body in a way that is humane and allows everyone to maintain their quality of life. That is why I am asking everyone to make a donation to my annual PMC ride for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute today.
Would you donate $19 today to help me celebrate my 19th year of survivorship AND to create a cancer-free world? That seems like a pretty good deal. To top it off, I will pledge to ride 1 minute on my trainer in March for each and every dollar donated for each dollar donated by the end of February. My dream is that I will have to spin for more than a 1,000 minutes next month – that’s almost 17 hours of training. I’ve done 1,000 minutes since the start of the year (7 weeks).
After 3 straight days on the bike, going from the western edge to the easternmost tip of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I would seem logical that I could only spend my only true vacation day of the entire trip by going for a bike ride. My Facebook post that day summarizes the 20-mile ride.
Enjoying my vacation day on the Cape with a bike ride! Evidently pulling a bike trailer with our 4-year old for 20 miles on the Cape Cod Rail Trail is considered a cool down ride. She’s going to be a great coach someday – whenever someone tried to pass me, she said “come on Dad, go faster”.
The following day, Tuesday, Michele and I headed up to Maine to see my mom and dad. As I have mentioned in this space, my dad has been diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer and has already started treatment. After his 2nd chemo, just prior to the PMC, he was diagnosed with an infection and was treated in the emergency room. By the time we got there, it was one week later, and I was impressed by his energy. I spent Wednesday taking him to his doctor and then running errands with him while my mom, Michele, and a family friend went to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor (unfortunately in the rain).
Thursday was a treatment day, chemo #3. I took my dad to the cancer center. It was my first time in a cancer treatment room since September 2011. While the setup was different than the cancer center that I was treated in, the language and questions were the same, the procedures and safety measures were the same, and the caring nature of the staff was the same. It is not uncommon for an adult child to take their parent to chemotherapy in this day and age – but it is certainly less common but not unprecedented that the adult child has been through the protocol already. I had expected almost to have a reaction to being in that environment, chills or sweats, or a turn of my stomach. I followed my dad’s lead though, and was calm and comfortable with the surroundings.
At the end of this week, my dad will have his 4th chemo treatment which will then be followed, a few days later, by a PET scan. This scan will provide some insight as to how effective the chemotherapy regimen has been. We will be hoping for the best, and fearing the worst.
So to recap this recap – PMC ride was EPIC and WET, my dad is doing as well as can be expected, and cancer still sucks. Thank you for taking the time to read and for the positive thoughts and prayers that you have sent to my family.
If you have made a donation to the PMC this year, THANK YOU! If you would still like to help end cancer, hopefully in our lifetime, you still can – simply visit http://www.pmc.org/as0171. Make a donation and save lives. It is that simple. Right now, you have a chance to save lives. 100% of every dollar you donate will go to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through its Jimmy Fund. Thank you!
Despite riding nearly the entire day in the rain, Saturday was an absolutely amazing day – we had so much fun, as there was little traffic. I felt no lingering effects of the leg cramps from the day before. The rain really picked up after Mile 80 in Lakeville. By the time I got to our team PIE STOP in Wareham to see Michele, Shannon, and the rest of the Deckers, I could barely feel my hands. That pie was so good, but all I craved at that point was a hot shower and clean clothes, both of which were easy to get – as long as I got on my bike again and rode 6 or 7 more miles in the rain. After 100 miles, that was pretty easy.
My favorite part of PMC weekend, which I have talked about many times before, is reconnecting with fellow survivors at the Living Proof photo, especially my dear friend Diane, who it turns out was riding with one of my new teammates all day long (hey Diane – you really should join our team, we have PIE!), and one of my personal inspirations, Carie, who rode this year’s PMC with her son!
SUNDAY, AUGUST 3rd: DAY 2
from Bourne to Provincetown
The roads were wet in the morning, but dried out by mid-morning. Again, a great day on the bike with my team. I had the opportunity to lead our peleton for a few miles. We rode together all day and a large group of us finished together. My thanks to Mike Weiner for riding with me up Route 6 into Provincetown when I fell back from our larger group. We really cranked it up those last few miles. My final mileage over the three days was 260 miles, not the 300 miles that I had planned but nevertheless the most I have ever ridden in one weekend and by far the most fun I have ever had on the bike.
Our team Living Proof ranks grew 50% this year with the addition of Betsy, who kept us all in good spirits with her humor and energy all weekend. Our plan had been to take our team Living Proof photo on Saturday, but the world conspired against us. Thankfully, we found each other in Brewster at the 2nd Sunday rest stop. I’d go for a bike ride with these two any day, any where, any weather.
It is hard for me to imagine that 2 weeks have passed since my team and I arrived in Sturbridge, MA to start the 2014 PMC. Let me see if I can come up with some words to describe this year’s 3-day ride across Massachusetts.
My 2014 PMC weekend started with the news that my dad, who started chemotherapy treatment in earlier July, had been admitted to the hospital due to an infection. Thankfully, the infection and his blood pressure were quickly controlled and his stay in the hospital was short. That fortunately meant that my trek across Massachusetts and the planned trip up to Maine following the PMC were still on schedule.
This year’s ride included an extra adventure, riding what my teammates have long called “DAY ZERO” from the New York & Massachusetts border to Sturbridge, MA. My good friend Barry Davis, himself a 34-year PMC rider, drove a large group of us from the Boston area out to Lenox in a school bus on Thursday afternoon.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 1st: DAY ZERO
A number of us started Friday morning at our teammate Kevin’s house in Lenox.
And then we met the rest of the group riding on the Town Square in Lenox, MA. Twenty of us in total, heading west first to the NY state line, then east to Sturbridge.
The highlight of my Day Zero ride was completing a 4-mile, 700 foot climb at mile 50. The day’s plan though then went awry when leg cramps hit me hard on mile 60. I was done for the day, so I hopped in one of our support vehicles, got hydrated, and arrive in Sturbridge.
Later on Friday, as is our tradition, my teammates and I enjoyed the live PMC Opening Ceremonies at the Sturbridge Host Hotel. This year’s show was broadcast live on the Boston CBS affiliate and hosted for the first time in the history of the event by a PMC rider, CBS Boston’s own Lisa Hughes.
This year’s show was great – feel free to watch the opening ceremonies here:
At my request, Team Forza-G has produced this special team jersey with the official PMC Living Proof patch for its 3 Living Proof members.
There will be over 300 cancer survivors riding the 2014 Pan Mass Challenge this year. I am so privileged to be among them. I will wear this jersey as a reminder that for everyone that progress is being made, that the ultimate goal is getting closer, and that a world without cancer is possible.
When you see this jersey fly past you going up Ocean View Drive, say hi!
Congrats to my teammates on another amazing year, fundraising a grand total of $261,000 for the PMC and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute! Since 2007, we have been committed to the PMC and have raised $1.46 million to help end cancer in our lifetime.