Though there are still four months to go, I’m so pumped to ride in the Philly Challenge! During the New Hampshire winter, I stuck to an indoor bike, but my fundraising is well underway.
My first Team LIVESTRONG event was all the way back in 2004, the year after my testicular cancer diagnosis. Bicycling 100 miles in Austin, Texas, and beating the hills, heat and headwinds helped me prove to myself and the world that cancer couldn’t keep me down. When the Challenge came to Philly in 2006, I was excited to have an additional option closer to home. I’ve been back to ride every year since, alternating between the 70 and 100-mile routes.
This year is different.
Last September, we learned that my wife of 26 years had multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. Despite a good initial response to treatment, hers was an especially virulent form that overwhelmed her body. We lost her on November 12. Survivorship has an entirely new meaning for my family. Adapting is grueling—our four kids and I miss her so much.
That’s why the changes to this year’s Philly event have me excited. While I’d never talk the whole family into riding a century—or even 45 miles—with me, we can all come together to honor Judy on this new course. My son Eric (who will be 16) and daughter Alison (who will be 22) are both game to cycle a loop or two with me, and Katie (19) and David (Eric’s fraternal twin) plan to run. I can ride a loop with my family, one with teammates, one with fellow LIVESTRONG volunteers and one with complete strangers and learn their stories. Those are some of my best memories from past years: stories from men and women I met out on the road about their reasons to ride: the people in their lives touched by cancer.
The LIVESTRONG Foundation has been key to my survivorship for 11 years. We have a history—but until cancer is history, people affected by the disease today need to be inspired and empowered as much as we ever have.
Ride with me in Philly. Ask me about Judy. I may have to hold back tears, but you’ll see just how resolved I am.
I’ll see you there.