During the last few days of outdoor riding in Michigan I was able to get one more “I Ride For” flag done. This one was requested by my friend Jenny for her colleague Joe. Here is what I know about Joe: he is in his 40s, he is a father, he is a friend, he has a great sense of humor, he is courageous, and this summer he finished his last round of chemo for leukemia. As I road for Joe I wondered, “Why do only people who are courageous and are too young get cancer?” I realized quickly that everyone I have ridden for is courageous and too young. All 3,000 song dedications are the same way. No one is old enough! Courage is something everyone who gets cancer has more of than someone like me who has never been there. I continue to be blessed by the stories of people like Joe. I hope I can be like this when my trial comes.
Two weeks ago on a cool and beautiful Sunday morning I road 100 miles that included 5000′ of climbing. For the 6 hours we were pedaling I caught a glimpse of yellow every time I turned my head. That bugged me. I knew it would. I put it there on purpose. I was riding with Jimmy’s flag pinned to my back.
I was able to give Jimmy a little hug at the start. I met him 6 years ago when cancer had only been part of a third of his life. Now Jimmy is 21 and cancer has been part of HALF his life! And I am bugged by a flag flapping behind me?
Jimmy and his sister are the reason 6 years ago I went through my rapid transformation from LiveSTRONG enthusiast to LiveSTRONG investor. Together these two had accumulated 700 donors through email and letters. At the time Jimmy was too weak to accept the award so his 13 year old sister accepted for them and then gave a thank you speech. And I was bugged by a flag?
The cancer is back. Jimmy has had to put his college plans at Stanford on hold again. He has been through all the standard treatments and will soon be starting a clinical trial again. Jimmy’s sister, Mom, and Dad have already started worrying again. Jimmy got up on stage two weeks ago and told us that we were the ones who were inspiring again. Next year I will ride with a flag pinned to my back again. #jimmystrong
I have always assumed leukemia was a kids or young adult cancer. Obviously I now know it is not. By this time hopefully Peg has gone through her last round of chemo for leukemia. Peg is the Mother of 5 and the Grandmother of 4. As I road with Peg’s flag behind me I thought of the extra pressure she must be going through. Not only does she have to deal with her own emotions (I would think fear, anger, confusion, hope) she also has to help her kids and grand kids. Wow. While I do not know Peg she must be a trouper. My friend Jenny who asked me to ride for Peg ended her not to me with, “Spirt, Bravery, Courage”. Pretty cool. Fight like hell Peggy!
In April of this year Maddy found out that her Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia was back. Maddy is 8 years old. I learned about her battle from a LiveSTRONG peer, Bradley, early this summer and have been watching her fight on the Team Maddy Facebook page. Maddy was responsible for her families dinner prayer on September 7. She prayed, “Dear God, thank you for Mommy, Daddy, Karsyn, Nana Banna and Ma. Please help me kick leukemia’s booty, thank you for this food, and please help OU win, Amen!” As I road for Maddy I was tempted to complain, yell, and scream at God. Maddy, however, has more faith than me so I followed her lead and just said thank you to everything I could think of. Keep SHINING Maddy!
Like many of the people I have ridden for this year, I have never met Vicki. At least I don’t think so. Vicki and I graduated from the same high school but we were 5 or 6 years apart. I learned about her fight from my child hood best friend, Kelly, and a Facebook post he did requesting prayers for Vicki. At the time she was at a cancer center in Chicago and very scared. Stage 4 stomach cancer will do that to ANYONE! I did say a prayer for her, and her husband and her kids and her grand kids. I thought about her and her battle everyday I biked with this flag. I feel guilty taking it off my bike. It seems like I should ride for the rest of the year with this flag. I won’t because I want Vicki to know a fellow Panther who she probably never met prayed and road for her this August. Fight Like Hell, Vicki!