Before cancer, I owned a roofing company that worked in seven states doing historic restoration of slate and copper, played 40 rounds of amateur golf a year, and weighed 209 lbs. I thought that I was healthy and living the dream.
While out of town for a four-day golf tournament, I told my wife that I had cancer. She thought that I was nuts because I hadn’t been sick or to the doctor in seven years. Not even a cold. I was 48 years old.
I am a man of faith and told her that I had been praying about it and was scheduling a doctor’s appointment when we returned home. That scared her because she knew I didn’t go to the doctor.
When I was at the doctor, he did blood work and found nothing unusual as he put it, but I insisted on a more thorough check, so he sent me for a CT Scan and told me not to get worked up over it. Three days later, he referred me to an Oncologist.
Here’s where I tell you that I am the only survivor of five cancer warriors in my family. I don’t drink or smoke. My diagnosis was Stage 4 Lymphoma. An eight to ten-pound tumor in my abdomen and in three in lymph nodes in my back. He told me in October 2013 that I had the right to a second opinion, but if I waited two weeks to start, I wouldn’t make it to the end of the year. I asked, “What if we start today?” and he said, “You have a 50/50 chance.” What a start to a difficult journey.
This was February of 2014 after my 5th chemo and a bout of double pneumonia with no immune system. I was not able to complete my chemotherapy. Every joint hurt, and I was so weak that it was a chore to walk 300 steps a day. I had to have oxygen attached to me for about a month and a half. This where it began…See, I had already seen my Dad, two grandfathers, and a grandmother taken by cancer. My faith kept me positive, and so I began to plan for a way to help others with this “problem.”
First, I had to figure out how to help myself. You see, there is no plan for mental or physical therapy for cancer survivors. The initial goal is just that, survival. When you are done, they say see you quarterly for the first year and then biannually after.
Once I was off the respirator, my wonderful wife would take me to the mall, and I would walk as much as I could. It took a year to be able to walk 2,800 steps a day, but I did it. Each time I would tell her, “I am going to do 10 more tomorrow.”
As my immune system got stronger, I walked with my wife outside. We would notice all these folks riding bikes (cyclists), so we got a couple of cheap bikes, and it began.
I saw how happy they looked, but they wore these “tights” that I called “Peter Pan” outfits. It just didn’t seem attainable because they were, to be honest, stand-offish and rude when approached with questions…on my Walmart bike. It didn’t stop me.
So I started riding daily on 5/9/17 and started living on 5/9/17! My wife and I bought good bikes and began riding. I wanted to help others through their struggles and decided to ride for charity because I was fortunate enough to have sold my company and retire. At first, it was hard. Here is my first ride data. I thought that I was going to die!
I did some public speaking but found that that only reached the select group and not the masses that were in need. But it did help me get my new persona out in public.
You see, I don’t use my name because it’s not about me. It’s about getting folks out, up, and okay. This is where I decided to become “The World’s Okayest Cyclist” because I just wanted to be Okay again.
I couldn’t jog because it is a high-impact sport, and my joints were still damaged. Cycling is low impact but very effective. I found atlasGO and started using it to put my efforts to use. I believed and still do. “If I can, you can!”
Present-day, I am healthy, 54 years old, weigh 160 lbs and ride or walk (I do need a rest day occasionally) daily for charity. My current mission as a cyclist is a 10,783-mile charity ride to raise awareness and funds for cancer.
I am riding for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as the Great Cycle Challenge (Children’s Cancer Research Fund). The GCC is for the month of September, and I have committed to 800 miles. The image below shows how far 10,783 miles is and how I came up with that magic number.
So far, I have ridden 3,493.46 miles, and I do wear a “Peter Pan” outfit but have a different view. It has my info on it and those who support my efforts. When I put it on, it reminds me why I ride. On those days that I don’t feel good, it’s raining, or my mind just isn’t in it, it reminds me that it isn’t about me at all. When I ride, it hurts, and at times it is difficult. I can promise you that chemo was worse! So it makes me remember, and I ride for those who are still struggling and those who will be. I want to be the change in the world that I want to see. You have choices in life. You can complain about it, feel sorry about it, or do something about it.
I chose the latter. It doesn’t mean that I don’t do a little of the others, though.
Peace and Love,
Here is the link with my info and donations if you feel the desire to support me.
World’s Okayest Cyclist