Advocacy Cancer Tips

Biking 400 miles to fight cancer

As a three-time cancer survivors, fighting cancer is one of my biggest passions. And I love being physically active. So when the opportunity came to participate in a cycling fundraiser to raise money for Livestrong’s cancer support programs, I decided that biking 400 miles to fight cancer would be a fun accomplishment!

I really enjoyed biking 400 miles to fight cancer

Why I ride my bike to fight cancer

A few years ago, I joined Team Livestrong to bike across Iowa during the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) to raise funds for and awareness of their cancer support programs. These great resources include navigation services, fertility assistance, k-12 school programs, advocacy and more. Unfortunately, the Covid pandemic kept the team from participating in RAGBRAI during 2020 and this year. Livestrong still is providing their cancer support programs, but funding is critical to providing these. So these virtual fundraising events are important to helping others.

People asked why I biked so much when it was ‘just’ a virtual event. My simple answer: because I’m so very fortunate that I can! I may need to modify, take more breaks or go slower than others without a femur/knee replacement, but every pedal is forward movement. It gets me through the tough days.

And when I state that I’m so very grateful to be alive after three cancers, I sincerely mean it. I am very aware that so many others facing cancer aren’t as fortunate as me. Including my dad. So I try very hard not to take ONE day for granted.

The reality is that cancer survivors and caregivers need support more than ever. The pandemic has delayed treatment, added more anxiety and fears, and simply added more obstacles and things to think about than anyone going through cancer treatment needs.

Cancer didn’t stop because of a pandemic. So we don’t stop fighting the disease nor providing support to those impacted by cancer.

A recap of biking 400 miles to fight cancer:

I thought it would be fun to provide an overview of my virtual bike ride across Iowa and why I ride for Livestrong and those facing cancer. These recaps came from journeying milestones toward my goal on my Instagram page. You can get the full posts and more photos there. In the end it was a definite win-win: our team raised over $50,000 for cancer support programs to help others facing this disease and I achieved a personal goal of helping my body stay strong and healthy.

Day 1:

Woo hoo! Day 1 of @livestrong virtual Ride Across Iowa event is completed (54 miles!) and I ‘made it to Storm Lake, Iowa.’ (anyone see the corn on the cob and craft beer tents??) As part of the virtual event, we do tasks at each goal. Today, I’m supposed to share my story. I’m a 3x cancer survivor, ridiculously grateful to be alive. My younger sister is also a cancer survivor 🙏🏻 and my hero, my dad, died from cancer. 💔 I am passionate about fighting this disease and helping others facing it.

Throughout this journey, I have met some amazing cancer survivors whose stories and courage touch my heart. I dedicated this first leg to some of the people who inspire me (I’ll be sharing more names throughout the month) to get up in the morning, be a better person, laugh, help others, try to make the world a little better. ❤️ Knowing that my actions may help even one person affected by this crappy disease motivates me to support charities like Livestrong and participate in events like this.

Day 2:

Day 2 of @livestrong virtual Ride Across Iowa completed (I split the ride into 13 miles and 43 mile rides). 🚴🏻‍♀️ Our task was set up our tent and take a picture in your favorite shirt/jersey. I’ve collected a lot of Livestrong jerseys since joining Team Livestrong – all have special meaning and memories. I chose this one from RAGBRAI 2019.

In early 2019, I started chemo/radiation for my 3rd cancer diagnosis. I was devastated but focused on positive things in my life. However, I was sad because I didn’t think I’d be ready to bike across Iowa only four weeks after treatment ended. But throughout treatment, so many Team Livestrong friends texted, messaged, called, mailed cards to encourage, share their love and support and say they couldn’t wait to see me in Iowa. 💗 So I kept getting on my bike trainer. When I was tired, I thought of these people, many courageous cancer survivors and many others who lost someone dear to cancer, and got up. And four weeks after treatment I biked RAGBRAI with my yellow family. 💛

This was our team jersey for that year. I cried happy and grateful tears every day in Iowa. I felt loved and supported. My body weirdly felt so strong even though I had just put it through hell. It was the perfect end to a tough journey/new chapter by reminding myself of my strength and that I’m surrounded by the most amazing people.💪🏻

These friends have all been affected by cancer in some way. They are examples of just some of the thousands that Livestrong supports each year through navigation services, fertility assistance, school programs, fitness programs, advocacy and more!

Day 3:

It takes a village sometimes and finishing day 3 of @livestrong virtual Ride Across Iowa fundraiser fell into that. 💗 A family getaway and tons of rain the past week had me splitting 62 miles into several segments but it’s done! 💪🏻 Thanks to my little niece, brother in law and a good friend (and a Big Brother episode while on the trainer) for helping me reach this mileage goal! Our tasks were connecting with a @livestrong teammate and eat a meal outside.

While I work toward my mileage goal, a donation helps meet my fundraising goal to ensure others touched by cancer have access to support programs, fertility assistance and more! 🙏🏻

Remember that it’s ok if it takes a little longer than others or you break a big goal into segments. You do you. What matters is you try…and have fun! 🎉Thanks for your ongoing support of my fun adventures! ❤️

Love biking with this cancer-fighting crew!
Day 4:

Day 4 of @livestrong virtual Ride Across Iowa event done – 69 miles! 🎉

Why do I ride for Livestrong? Because I can. And I’m SO very grateful for that statement. 🙏🏻 Not every #bonecancersurvivor, nor cancer survivor, can write that. And while I work my butt off to take care of it, I’m so proud of my body’s resilience and strength (even the days that treatment side effects make me want to cry).

I’m alive after three cancers. Do you know how amazing that statement is? Sometimes it makes me cry because I’m so very grateful for each day (especially when I miss my dad every day). 💗 It has been a TOUGH journey, tougher than I can ever express for no words can truly describe the ups/downs, anxiety, loneliness, exhaustion, heartbreak, sadness, anger of going through cancer. 😔

Nor could I truly describe the overwhelming love, gratitude, inspiration, kindness, community, faith and hope that I’ve also encountered through this journey. 💛

I ride for Livestrong because this organization provides much-needed programs for cancer survivors and caregivers, helping navigate through every phase of the cancer journey. Programs such as support services, fertility assistance, school programs, physical activity programs, advocacy and more). Livestrong was there for my family and me through my cancers and my dad’s. I want to ensure it is there for the thousands of people who reach out for support each year. Knowledge is power.💪🏻

I also ride for Livestrong for the community. There is nothing like being surrounded by others who understand the emotions and struggles, the joys and tears. Some of these people are my dearest friends. I will always believe that we are better together. Unity is strength.☀️

No one should face cancer alone. Everyone should have options. If you agree, please consider making a donation to my cycling event page. Any amount makes a difference. Thank you! ❤️

Day 5:

Woo hoo! I completed day 5 of @livestrong virtual Ride Across Iowa (51 miles!) with this amazing crew! 🚴🏻‍♀️

Our Carolyn tribute jerseys received lots of attention, giving us opportunities to talk about Livestrong’s cancer support programs and hand out many yellow wristbands to cancer survivors and those touched by cancer. 💛

This gorgeous Carolyn tribute jersey is in memory of our teammate’s wife who died from cancer. The many symbols, including cats, books, keyboard, represent her loves. We also took her love of music to another level by singing a LOT along the bike trail. It made for a great day. My 💗 was so full being surrounded in love and laughter with these people. ❤️

Day 6:

Day 6 completed of @livestrong virtual Ride Across Iowa (40 miles)! 🚴🏻‍♀️ Our tasks were to make a s’more (or a few) and post a picture of a tribute card. I could sadly post multiple tribute cards full of so many names of people impacted by cancer. Every person’s name/story touches my heart and motivates me to be an advocate, share cancer support programs like Livestrong’s and fundraise to ensure no one faces cancer alone.💛

My family’s journey reminds me to get up and face every day with courage, kindness, grace and determination. And even smiles on the toughest days.😊

When my dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma not even a year after my first diagnosis, I could not wrap my head around how my strong, brave, protective dad could have cancer. I struggled as our roles changed to me helping my brave mom care for him. And when he died, my heart broke. 💔 But his story and legacy are still with us. Every day. I ride for him.

When my younger sister called me at a cancer advocacy event in Washington, DC to share her melanoma diagnosis, I wanted to scream and throw something. I was so angry that my family faced this again. Thank God, surgery cleared her cancer and she is healthy. I ride for her.

I added my own tribute card as a reminder to myself of all that I’ve overcome. Every day I wake up, I choose joy and gratitude. The days are not always easy, but every day I am grateful to be alive. Maybe it will motivate someone to remember they’re strong too. And I also want to remind those people who advocate, fundraise, dedicate time and energy to fight this ugly disease of how VERY grateful I am for them. I ride for all of YOU.

When you hesitate to support a cancer charity, wonder where your donations go or who you may be helping, think of my family. And the thousands of other families that Livestrong helps. ❤️

Day 7:

Holy fudge, I did it! 402 miles to complete @livestrong virtual Ride Across Iowa! And I surpassed my fundraising goal. 🎉 And those miles were worth it, knowing it helps #Livestrong provide important free cancer support programs to others who need navigation services, fertility assistance, and more. 💛

I’m going to brag a little bit on my strong body (that cleared three cancers) 💪🏻… between the biking, I also logged many hiking miles and started @barreblendworkout. It feels so good to feel strong!

I’m also proud that I completed this cycling event in a way that worked for me. I listened to my body, which is really important to do. Remember: what works for you may not work for someone else and that’s OK! Some of my teammates completed each full stage in a day, some completed the event in consecutive days, heck, one even completed the stages and went on to bike daily through July. I’m super proud of them and love that they did what worked for them! 🔥

Whether you’re a cancer survivor, facing some other illness or injury, pushing yourself to get off the couch or whatever….you got this! One step, or pedal, at a time. Get started. Remember – YOU DO YOU.

Thank YOU so much to those who donated to ensure these great programs are available to people facing cancer! Our team raised over $50,000 thanks to your generosity! 🙏🏻

Thank you to everyone who commented on these posts, messaged me encouragement, biked with me and offer support in so many different ways. YOU all inspire me to keep moving. ❤️

What’s next?

So that’s a recap of my adventures in biking 400 miles to fight cancer! It was a great achievement for me. I’m proud that I could help raise funds and awareness of programs and services that support so many touched by cancer. I’m also proud that my body stayed strong and reached our big goal.

Now on to the next adventure! What fun have you done this summer? Share in the comments!

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