We started riding for Carrie. Carrie was my brother’s wife. She was the sister I never had. She was an amazing wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend. Basically, she was an amazing person.
When she was diagnosed with colon cancer at 35 years old her first two thoughts were “I am going to beat this” (because you certainly don’t let yourself think otherwise when you have a toddler at home) and “I am going to use my illness to help other people.”
One of the ways Carrie chose to help others was to join the fundraising efforts of Cycle of Survival. Cycle for Survival is the movement to beat rare cancers. It pairs high-energy indoor team-cycling events with group fundraising efforts, with 100% of every dollar raised going directly to fund lifesaving rare cancer research. You can learn more about the events here.
The first year they rode, in 2015, Carrie was in between cancer battles, and together with my brother, and her siblings and friends she participated in the event. (Unfortunately, we were not there that year). One of my favorite pictures of Carrie is her waving that orange pom-pom from her bike.
Sadly, Carrie passed away later that same year and now we continue to ride in her memory. She may not have beaten the disease, but she is still helping others currently fighting this courageous fight.
I continue to ride in memory of Carrie – to raise money to help beat this disease once and for all. To let cancer patients and survivors know that I support them and I’ve got their back. And to let my little nephew, who is now five know, that his mom will never be forgotten.
But this year, I am hoping that maybe, just maybe, my ride will help me too. Maybe it will help diffuse some of my anger and alleviate some of my pain and help me find my new normal after a year filled with even more heartache and grief.
Becasue my mom (and obviously, but notably, my brother’s mom), lost her own cancer battle last spring. She died only four short months after being diagnosed. And, if I am honest, I still don’t think I’ve totally processed that yet.
I feel angry. And sad. And tired. And helpless. And cheated. And bitter. And jealous of people who still have their mothers here with them. Pretty much all the time.
Yup – there I said it.
I miss my mom every day. In a way that I didn’t even know was possible.
I feel like I am living in two worlds. The one where I walk around and pretend that everything is okay. And the one where grief rules, and nothing at all feels even remotely okay.
The other day, seven and a half months after she died, I found myself texting her, actually writing out the text before I realized that she was no longer around to read it. I just can’t bring myself to delete her name from my contact list. (Carrie is still in there too). Sometimes I click her name by accident and when I realize what I’ve done I have to choke back my tears.
And sometimes, I just forget, and reach out because there is just so much I still want to tell her.
I can’t believe that she’s already been gone over 7 months. It feels like just yesterday – and I don’t mean yesterday that she died, but yesterday that she was here.
In fact, one year ago today, we didn’t even know she had cancer yet. I mean we all suspected – she’d been sick for awhile, had lost a ton of weight, couldn’t shake her cold and cough and was so weak and tired all the time.
But we didn’t know. The tests hadn’t yet found the mass, the biopsy wasn’t completed, the treatments hadn’t been started. One year ago today we were all still blissfully ignorant. We knew she was sick, but we believed she would get better.
We still had her to talk to. And laugh with. And plan with. And hope with.
So many plans left undone . . .
Because of stupid cancer.
So, this year I ride for my Mom.
And for my aunt. And my grandpa. And my countless friends and family members who have suffered at the hands of this awful disease.
I ride because I must. Because I really don’t know what else to do with myself. Because when someone you love receives the life-altering diagnosis of CANCER you will do anything you can to help.
I ride for everyone battling the disease today. For those who survived it and those who succumbed. I ride for all the people who love them and who feel so powerless and small and sad and afraid and angry.
I ride for us all, because no-one escapes untouched from cancer’s greedy grab. And it’s time that we all join together – join the battle and beat rare cancer.
Won’t you help us fight?