Crass? A bit. Harsh? Perhaps. A good team name for a CycleFest to raise money for the LiveStrong program at my local YMCA? Um, nope. You see, that “C” in the YMCA stands for “Christian” and apparently, Christians believe that God frowns upon swearing…or something like that. The name seemed appropriate given our team. My good friend Josh came up with it since three out of our four team members lost our moms to cancer…and we’re pretty pissed about it.
My mother was diagnosed in 1988 when I was 12 and in eighth grade. I distinctly remember standing in my kitchen, with my Catholic school uniform on, and my dad telling me and my older brother that my mom had cancer. I barely understood what that meant. Unfortunately for me, and my mom, I would find out.
She had ovarian cancer which is very hard to diagnose, and by the time they diagnosed her, it had spread. It was an agonizing five years of chemo treatments, radiation, surgeries and bed rest. My entire four years of high school were a never ending cycle of my mom feeling good and then having another round of chemo or radiation and then being sick in the hospital or in bed for weeks. It was pure hell – for her, for my dad who loved her more then any husband has ever loved a wife, for her parents, sisters, brothers and friends. And, of course, for me, who was a teenager and a nightmare.
She died the day after I came home from a senior trip to Cancun, Mexico in February of 1993. It was the worst day of my life.
Now, as a mom myself, I cannot imagine having to say good-bye to my kids. I cannot imagine having a body that is so sick and weak. I cannot imagine the strength my mother had to endure it all. I just can’t.
So yes, I say FUCK YOU CANCER! I say yes to being the healthiest person I can be because I think that will somehow protect me even though, in my mind, I know it’s not true. I use my fitness as a weapon, a shield – against sickness, against pain, against leaving my family, my kids. I won’t let you get me cancer.
I have yearly ultrasounds to check my ovaries so take THAT! I had the genetic test BRCA1 to be sure I’m not a carrier of the gene for breast or ovarian cancers so take THAT! I even get mammograms before the age of 40 so take THAT! And I pedal until my legs fall off for CycleFest to support the LiveStrong program!
This weekend my YMCA held a CycleFest to raise money for our LiveStrong program. The program allows cancer patients and survivors to become members for free. They get personal training and are given opportunities to take classes and do a variety of things the Y offers by being in this program. There’s currently a wait list.
On this day, 22 teams of four brave souls showed up to cycle for at least one hour and up to four. I was proud to be a participant and an instructor and my theme was songs from movies! We had a live DJ and we rocked it out!
When I looked around at all the LiveStrong participants it made me sad that there wasn’t something like this for my mom when she was battling. Because I believe so much in the power of fitness to heal both the mind and body, I know this would have helped. If I knew then what I know now…
I would give anything to have one more day, one more hour – hell I would take five minutes – with my mom. I talk to her on my long runs (she’s pretty proud about my latest accomplishment) and I’m happy for all the people today, suffering with cancer, that have this amazing program and a community that supports it.
The final tally isn’t in but, I think we raised close to $14,000! Today was a good day. Take THAT Cancer!
Do you volunteer or raise money for a cause? If you could quit your job and work for any cause or organization what would it be?