Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The route

I am piecing together a route which hits big and mid size towns in the Midwest, allows me to enjoy long solitary rides in Central US and will take me through several National Parks in the West.

The plan is to head out on July 26 leaving Washington DC in the early afternoon. I am heading north west out of DC, through Leesburg, VA along the C&O canal, then into Cumberland and, by way of the Great Allegheny Passage through Pittsburgh. Gary, Indiana is the mid-size town right before the huge urban sprawl of Chicago then I will head north along Lake Michigan to Milwaukee then I turn north west to Minneapolis and all the way north to Fargo before veering west through Bismark, the Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park then north again to highway 2 and then west through Montana, the Glacier National Park, into Idaho and Washington on a straight line until I turn north on the very last day of my trip to hit Vancouver.

Why I am doing this, honestly...

I am a 37 year-old recently-diagnosed leukemia patient and I am riding my bicycle across the United States to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

Barely three months ago, I was sitting in a comfortable hospital chair with a drip in my vein through which chemotherapy medication was gradually dripped in my blood stream. Just over two months ago, I was at home with no appetite, no energy and no desire to get out of my sofa going through the pounds that my body would shed day by day. At times my whole body would hurt, my bones would hurt to the core and I thought it would hurt forever. But it didn't. I began to gain strength. I started eating again, I started being myself again. It felt like learning to walk again. The whole experience was confusing, embarrassing, isolating. I went back to work and I started seeing life for what it really is: an opportunity. And I went to the things I love. Cycling. I started training. The first workout was as frustrating as anything, a snail-paced 7-mile ride that would have embarrassed anyone. I felt spent, discouraged, uninterested. I was close to tears and I thought that I would never be strong again. I fought the urge to quit my bike or even sell it. But little by little, mile by mile, through agony at times, yells and tears, I learnt what the mind can do. I watched the Adidas ad and I agreed: impossible is nothing. Well, almost... One week I'd walk, the next I'd jog, the next I'd run. After a few weeks I knew I was gonna to give it a shot. I was gonna train for this ride. I thought that if I'd throw myself into a project of this kind maybe I could raise awareness about this disease, maybe I could raise funds for cancer research and... maybe I'd get healthier. I hope that patients like me will have a chance to be cured and live.  Cancer research, coupled with self-belief and determination, helps millions of patients to live. This is the chronicle of my journey through the United States on a bike only four months from my diagnosis. This is the story of my journey back to life.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I got hit

A thunderbolt struck me last March. I joined the millions of people around the world that define themselves as cancer patients. This is my story, well...a tiny part of it and this live journal chronicles my journey across the country in my attempt to give this a meaning.

I got hit big and I got knocked down. As I lay on the canvas I heard the 10 second count. I lay still until I heard the bell and I was able to run for cover. What do I do now? I crawl to my corner and I get patched up. I am saved and I can go on another round. So I get up and fight back, while the wound is still wide open that is. But I figure if I wait for it to heal I might as well wait forever so I have decided that I am gonna turn this nasty blow into a positive thing, I take a deep breath and my next move is to step back a little to absorb the punches so I can turn the numbing shock of these blows into speed and flexibility to generate strength within myself.

I am cycling across the country because I want to beat this, I want to see it through to the last round and I want to see what kind of person comes out the other end. I am aware that fighting the road does not make a fighter, fighting cancer does. I want to send out a call to action to the people that are following this fight and a message of hope to those that are sick and feel hopeless.

I think the moment we give up our dreams is the moment we begin to die.