I’m biking across Iowa to fight cancer
My year to CELEBRATE is off to a great start! One great reason is that I’m joining some dear friends on a fun bike ride to raise funds for Livestrong’s cancer support programs. Read on to learn why I’m biking across Iowa to fight cancer.
A year of celebrations
This year, I celebrate 25 years as a cancer survivor. Yes, I’m celebrating that! I am blessed and grateful to be a bone cancer, melanoma and breast cancer survivor. And Livestrong celebrates 25 years of providing support to people facing cancer and changing the conversation around cancer.
One of the ways I’m celebrating this year is joining Team LIVESTRONG at the Register’s Annual Great Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), a seven-day bike ride from the Missouri to Mississippi Rivers, in July. Our goal is to raise awareness and funds for their cancer support programs (donate here).
Because of the Covid pandemic, the last time I rode in Iowa with Livestrong was in 2019, four weeks after I finished treatment for my third cancer (ironically it was my third time biking with the team; yep, I love signs like that!). You can read my reflection on that week, but this highlight is still so true:
I’m grateful for this week….for the strength and confidence I found in my body and mind, the amazingly kind, wonderful people I get to call friends, and the difference we made in the fight against cancer. I’m excited for this next chapter of life. I’m ready to continue to advocate against cancer, help others, find adventures, seek laughter, welcome love and throw my arms open to what, and who, welcomes and joins me…..If happiness were a physical form, I would hug it so tight and say thank you for being part of my life.
I’m excited, blessed and honored to return to Iowa to celebrate 25 years of Livestrong supporting cancer survivors. And remind myself of how far I’ve come since that 21-year old college senior who faced the unthinkable in a cancer diagnosis.
5 reasons why I’m biking across Iowa to fight cancer:
1.To help others impacted by cancer
Livestrong started offering cancer support shortly before my first cancer diagnosis 25 years ago. The organization provided important information and support to my family and me. Since its inception, Livestrong has served thousands of people impacted by cancer. Some programs include:
*K-12 school programs to help kids understand cancer
*Encouraging cancer survivors to get stronger physically
*Providing fertility assistance to those trying for a family
*Fighting cancer at the legislator level
*Funding community solutions grants
Livestrong reminds those of us impacted by cancer that Unity is Strength. Knowledge is Power.
2.Because I can.
It’s estimated there will be 1.9 million new cancer cases and over 609,000 deaths from cancer in the U.S. in 2022. It is never lost on me how incredibly fortunate and blessed I am to be alive after three cancers. To be able to be so active with a titanium rod in place of my femur and knee. I credit research, new treatment options and access to care for saving my life. My determination to embrace this life and smile at each new day certainly keeps me going, as well as the inspiration of others, including my dad, to keep me moving forward.
3.It keeps me focused on caring for my body.
I am often in awe of my body’s resilience after chemo, radiation, surgeries and more. Being diagnosed with bone cancer at 21 quickly erased the common invincibility that young people often feel wrapped in. It brought into focus that we only get one body and I MUST protect it. I decided then that I wouldn’t take my health or body for granted. Staying active, eating (mostly) healthy, scheduling screenings and health appointments are no-brainers for me. Because I plan to be here another 50+ years!
Training for RAGBRAI keeps me focused on a strong body. I’ll of course listen to my body and cycle what I can. My goal is to ride all seven days but if my body says to rest, then I will. But I love a fun goal to keep me motivated to move!
4.It pushes me out of my comfort zone (like sooooo far out).
If you had told me a few years that buying a road bike would change my life and I’d be crazy enough to bike across any state, I would have laughed. RAGBRAI is….an experience. A fun, crazy experience. But I admit I most likely wouldn’t do it without the Livestrong charity factor and my close friends. Or at least been serious about ‘one time and done.’ Camping, shower trucks, sweaty, tired, too many strangers near my personal space. And, yet I find myself thriving every time I’ve done it. Smiling, crying tears of joy and pride (ok, maybe a few of exhaustion and overtired!). The love of being on my bike with some of my favorite friends. I’ve learned so much about myself and accomplished things I never thought I could.
5.These people get me.
Our team is made up of cancer survivors, caregivers, people who love someone facing cancer and have lost family and friends to cancer. Every one of us has been impacted by cancer in some way. So they get me. When I biked RAGBRAI four weeks after finishing treatment, my team got me through, watched over me. Without these people, I would never consider biking so far and so many miles. They are my friends beyond the bike and a week in Iowa. They motivate and inspire me to spread kindness, help others and celebrate life.
Will you help me help others facing cancer?
I’m biking across Iowa to fight cancer and I’d love your help in supporting cancer survivors and caregivers! Please help me support others touched by cancer with a donation to Livestrong.
As a thanks, every $10 donation will receive an entry into a drawing to win a cool swag bag from me!
And if you want updates on my cycling fun and RAGBRAI updates, subscribe to this blog (below) and follow me on Instagram. Let’s CELEBRATE every day!