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!
I was asked by my friend Jenny to do a flag for her co-worker, Don. I put her request into my Que, but Don ran out of time before I could get the flag on my bike. A month before Don thought he was in remission from Leukemia. Don survived two transplants. Now Don’s wife and three kids are the survivors. Jenny wrote, “He has been an inspiration and a role model to me and so many with the grace and positive attitude he has fought.” I’ll never know Don, but I road with him and for his family this week.
I Ride For: Mike. Mike is the cousin of my friend Jenny. Mike is battling brain cancer. He is 40 years old and the father of triplets. Many (including me) would say that Mike has gotten the short end of the stick. He has! Through this crappy deal, however, Mike is passing on a message for all. Jenny wrote me about Mike, “I admire his amazing spirit, positive attitude, and love of life.” As I road with Mike behind me I wondered where he gets the inspiration to be this kind of example. I also hoped that if put in similar circumstances I can do it too. Fight Like Hell Mike!
Jon ran out of time on June 1, 2013. So for the second time this year I road with a flag for the other survivors – Angela, Nicholas, and Rachel (Jon’s wife, son, and daughter). I only know Jon through the stories his cousin, Mark, as passed to me since his death. He sounds like he was a heck of a fighter. As I road this week with this flag, my thoughts kept moving to all these other survivors. We regularly read and see the heroic fight cancer survivors put up, but there are rarely any stories of the collateral damage cancer causes. I have no idea what Angela, Nicholas, and Rachel are going through. If there is any comfort at a time like this, I hope they will know that someone in Michigan is thinking about the fight they must continue without their husband and Dad. It stinks! It is not fair! I cried with and for you this week. I am sorry!
I met George (Mr. Martell) when I was in junior high. His son, Brad, and I did almost everything together for many years. The things I remember from that time about George are he took me for my first motor boat ride (my family did sail boats), we could not get in his car without making sure there was a towel under our feet (a clean towel!), and he taught me to put peanut butter on my pancakes (I won’t even touch a pancake today without peanut butter – why bother?). Today George is practically living at the Mayo Clinic. He has cancer that is along his spinal cord. He comes home for holidays but the half day drive is really tough. While I wish it was not needed, I was honored to make a $28 donation to Livestrong in George’s name and to pull this flag behind my bike. Although I do not eat many pancakes these days, I eat my oatmeal with a big glob of peanut butter and say a little thank you prayer for George.