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Celebrating Imagination and the Wonderful, Wild Ride that is Life

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Feeling melancholy...and a dedication of sorts.

So I was thinking about yesterday's post. I had so much more I wanted to write, but it was stepping into emotional waters, and I did a little side-stepping to avoid it. But I woke up this morning with those same thoughts on my mind, feeling melancholy. I knew I needed to finish my thoughts, let some of it out, in order to find some peace today. Of course, I am riding the Tour de Pink for so many reasons beyond myself, my family, and my past. There are hundreds of others who will be making the trip. They will most definitely be with me on the ride. For one, I will be thinking about all of the people who have supported me on this ride by donating, sharing riding tips, and just being great cheerleaders: Michael, you are an inspiration. Steve, thanks for the laughs and the beers, Lynn, you inspire me everyday to be a better person, and Bill, I hope I can feel just one iota of the physical strength that you have when the road gets tough. Kim Kos & family, you are the laughter and the light I so often need; thank you for always being there.

Aunt Sue, Mary Ellen, Donna & Richard, Sarah, Laura, Kim & family, Lisa & Bob, and all of the rest of you who have donated and left amazing comments on our site, I will have all of your smiling faces on my mind. And to all of you die-hard garage salers out there who helped us raise over $3000, all I can say is "Wow!" Every penny is so important. It makes me think of all the young women out there on the YSC boards who are fighting, surviving, and dying; who will get support thanks to your generosity. I hope you know what a difference you are making.

I often think about the young woman who is just finding a lump, or just going in to her doctor. I pray that she gets great care, and if the news is bad, I hope she finds the YSC; that faceless young woman will be with me, too.

But weighing most heavily, most close to my heart are those who I have met on my own cancer journey. Those who helped me fight the battle: Jim, Leslie, Greg & Kendall, I don't know if you realize what a life raft your home was for my family during our cancer storm. Bonnita, my 10 year Cancerversary buddy, my lone cancer support group, I will have your voice from all those phone calls where we dared to talk about living and dying deep in my thoughts. Lisa S. and Carolyn, and all the Docs & others, and the warrior women at the YWCA, for putting your faith in me and trusting that the YSC could make a difference, you'll be on the ride too! Cara, my confidant and life coach: I'm taking you for a ride! I will be thinking about the doctors and nurses who fought with me during my battle: Doctor Mary, Dr. Christie, Dr. Dalton, and Dr. Nikcevich, thank you for daring to know me as a person and not just a patient.

And finally, to those who have blessed me with their stories, who have shared their fear, sadness, longing, hopes, dreams, and laughter: the ladies (& gents!) I have met through our YSC cancer support group. I will have each and every one of you with me. You all have an important chapter in my story. Julie, I know you know what is in my heart; imagine yourself on the handlebars. Wendy, I wouldn't be where I am with YSC today if it wasn't for you; strap on your helmet, lady! Stina, Kathy N., Roxanne, Barb, Janelle, Debbie, Chris, Eileen, Ann, Diana, Natasha, Laura D., Jami, Karole, Marcy, Shana, Mary & Patrick, Lorena, Kathy T., Silva, Pam, Maribeth, Binner, Jessica, Mary, and all, words cannot express how grateful I feel to have your trust. I have learned so much from you; you have supported me much more than I think I have done for you.

Of course, the faces that will help me get up the hardest hills will be no surprise to those of you who understand; Tricia, Chris, and your wonderful girls. Tricia, when I feel tired or beaten, or find it hard to breathe, when I feel my heart pumping so hard that it feels like it will burst out of my chest, I will be grateful. I will remember how hard you fought, and I hope I will find the strength to keep pedaling. After all, what is a bike ride in comparison? I miss you. And I promise to have you with me on the downhills, too, enjoying the long, casting ride of relief and peace.

I apologize to anyone whose name I may have ommitted. There really are far too many to name you all. Just know that what you have said or done has mattered and will never be forgotten.

I'm sorry for the length and the sadness of this post, but sometimes the well is too deep, and needs to be released.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A gorgeous day and plenty of time to think.

One thing riding a bike for a long time gives you, especially if you're riding alone, is plenty of time to think. I just got back from a 34 mile ride. It was a new route that a friend shared with me and it passed by lakes, farmland, and even a quarry. (Not nearly as pretty, but interesting!) Anyway, I spent a lot of time thinking. Especially since I wasn't exactly feeling up to a long ride. I was having some aches and pains, and I find the best thing for me to do in that situation is to try and let my mind wander. This time, I started to think about the big ride coming up. It dawned on me that all along, ever since I chose to do this ride, I have said that it was for me. So that I could feel like I had conquered something. I don't know that I can ever go so far as to be confident enough to say I've conquered cancer, but at least I can conquer a bike ride. But, on this ride I was feeling a lot more weight on me than I usually do. Mental weight. I realized that in truth, this ride isn't just for me. It is also for the me that used to be. The me before cancer. I could almost feel myself reaching back into the past to grab that young, idealistic, hurting person and pull her close. To show her where we've come and that the future is unpredictable, that everything can, in its own way, be alright. I also have my kids, both now and then, with me on that bike. And my husband. Our whole life story, with all the twists and turns and surprises that have popped up along the way. That's a lot of people on one small bike, but they do help keep me pedaling. And like I said, I've got plenty of time to think.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Diamonds and Chocolate...that is bliss!!!!

So, it's time to explain the feed posted yesterday about the diamonds and chocolate. If you haven't followed the link, you really must. I can't think of anything better. They say diamonds are a girl's best friend, but I would go so far to say that chocolate is a girl's spiritual adviser. Well, at least this girl.

The tie-in comes around due to the fact that the Tour de Pink is sponsored by the Hershey Chocolate Co. . Hershey's is the largest corporate sponsor of the Young Survival Coalition. They give a check for $30,000 each year as well as the funds that are raised by the event.

This year they asked for survivors who were riding in the TDP to submit their story. They subsequently chose five of us to serve as spokespeople. You guessed it, I am one of the five. (I assume that only five submitted their story, hence I get to be a part of the fun!)

They flew us to Hershey for a whirwind one day/one night trip during which we posed for photographs, were interviewed, and here's the best part...ate chocolate! Seriously, it was a great experience. I met four other awesome young survivors and have four new firends. Each of us had a unique story and it was truly amazing to hear each one of them.

Hershey's Bliss is the chocolate that will be turning pink for YSC this year. It is delicious, creamy, and everything I need. They even put little pink ribbons on the wrapper. The YSC logo is on the bag, and you may even be blessed to see my face (or I am hoping not anatomically correct cardboard cut-out of me at the candy display in your local store!) Yes, that's right, mine is the face of bliss! Of course, Brad always says that!!! (Ha!) So look for the chocolate in your local store and buy! Buy! Buy! Do your Halloween candy shopping early and support the YSC!

I've posted some of the photos from the shoot here. All I can say is, God bless professional make-up artists and photographers! They are amazing!

The interviews will be on the Hershey's Bliss Tour de Pink website starting October 1st. Keep your eye out!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I call her "Crash"...

As I said in my original post, the bike pictured above, my Dolce, is not the one I am using in the Tour de Pink in October. Despite what you might think, breast cancer has its perks. One of them being that when you sign up as a survivor to ride in the TDP, you are given some pretty nice swag. I got a great new helmet, biking gloves, the coolest bike shoes on the planet, and the best... a shiny, new, fancy, super duper road chomping bike: the Giant for Women Avail. She is sized perfectly to fit me (with a little help from my bike guru Corey, at the Ski Hut in downtown Duluth.) And as many of you may have noticed, I am on the lower end of the stature scale. So, yes, my bike is an extra small. As in just barely not a circus clown bicycle. But, seriously, this baby is sah-weet!!!! The only disappointment came when I picked her up from the dealer and she was not breast cancer pink and pretty. No, she's fire orange. But I have learned to deal with it. She has attitude, and I like it. She is now a treasured member of the family. Why the name "Crash" you say? Well, that has to do with the experience of trying to adjust to the clips that were needed for my cool new shoes and hot new bike. I may not be a master at getting in or out of them, but I am beginning to be a master at falling! Speaking of falling... well, you'll just have to wait for that story for another day.

Here's a photo of me and Crash (don't we look smokin'?):

We had a great 25 mile ride this morning. The leaves are already turning. I'm trying hard not to notice.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Where in the world?

For those of you (okay, Kim) who have been wondering if I have fallen off of the face of the earth, you can check in on my other blog, Dreaming On Two Wheels, where you can catch up on what I have been up to when not shuttling my soon-to-be-senior around on college visits and working like a fool for the Young Survival Coalition. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time for creative pursuits, but I'll post some when they come about...hopefully soon! I have to keep this other blog updated more frequently...that explanation coming soon over there! Come visit!!!

A Long Ride...the First of Many

So yesterday afternoon Brad and I set out for a long ride which quickly became longer than anticipated. I had a map that I had created on a website called BikeRouteToaster but, not surprisingly, the directions were bad. Roads that it said existed did not exist. Right turns were actually left turns, etc. It just goes to show how far out in "undiscovered country" I am living! It definitely brings to mind old maps with the phrase "There be dragons here"! Just when I was begining to seriously be concerned about the future of our marriage, I came upon a familiar road. (Well, at least the name was familiar!) After many mistakes, turn-arounds, and dirty looks we rolled home about 3 3/4 hours later, having ridden 55 1/2 miles averaging 15 mph. Not too shabby. Of course, it's pouring rain today and am happy to have an excuse to stay dormant. Brad decided to go fishing/paddling in the downpour. I guess he really needed some alone time!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Sweet Life

The photo above is my bike. But it's not the bike I will be riding in the 2009 Hershey's Tour de Pink . Thanks to the awesome sponsors of the ride, including Giant for Women bicycles, I have been outfitted from head to toe with new biking gear. Luxurious Shimano shoes (with clips...more on those later), Giant helmet, gloves, and bike bag, etc. But best of all, I was given a brand new, sized to fit me personally, Giant for Women road bike. She is, without a doubt, a she-beast. I will be featuring her in future posts, but I felt I would be remiss if I did not honor my Dolce. She has been a good friend: My guide and faithful companion at the start of my road biking journey. She is aptly named "La Dolce Vita": The Sweet Life. That name sums it all up for me. That's why I ride. That's why I'm seting out on this crazy adventure. Because for me, it really all is about the sweet life. Salut, Dolce!

Evidence of a Life