Tomorrow morning I will be riding my bike 153 miles in The Pan Mass Challenge to raise money for The Jimmy Fund and The Dana Farber Cancer Institute. I wanted you ladies to know that you will all be in my heart as I ride as well as all those on this site who we have lost to this awful disease. The PMC here in Massachusetts is one of the biggest fund raisers around and 100% of the donated money goes directly to Dana Farber.
A few weeks ago I got to ride my bike onto Fenway Park field before a crowd of 30,000 Red Sox fans with 29 other cancer survivors to celebrate the PMC’s 30th anniversary. It was an amazing experience. PMC Night at Fenway.
To say I am nervous about riding in my first PMC this weekend may well be an understatement.
During the last few months of our training, Susan and I have been out on rides that last 5-6 hours long leaving a lot of free time to contemplate the unknown; and so often when our minds are left to their own devices, they settle on the worst case scenarios. I worry about so many things like my gears which have not been working correctly since the triathlon. I worry that Susan and I haven’t trained long enough or hard enough. I worry that Susan will be so far ahead of me that I won’t find her at the water stops or she will make new better, faster, biking friends to ride with because I will be so slow. I worry that my Achilles tendinitis will act up and my left ankle will burn so badly that I will not be able to pedal.
When I look at pictures of past PMC’s the sheer number of riders terrifies me. I fear claustrophobia and the great possibility of tumbling head over handlebars into the bike mere centimeters in front of me. I can only hope everyone will eventually pass me, leaving me to chug along at my own pace. I imagine riding into Bourne at nightfall, the last biker to finish, everyone else fast asleep.
I worry that I will not be able to get up after sleeping in a tent and pedal 65 miles home on Sunday. Or that I will drink too many celebratory beers on Saturday night and miss the 4:40 am wake-up call.
All this worry is of course irrational. Realistically I know that this will be the most amazing journey. I know that it will be fun and exhilarating and everything will work out. I know that if it rains –I have a raincoat, and if I get a flat — someone will be there to change it. I just have to keep reminding myself why I am doing this.
I am doing this because after battling cancer and treatment this past year, I needed a greater challenge to prove that my body was strong enough to endure a 153 mile bike ride and at the same time raise a boatload of money for the institute that saved my life as well as my spirit.
The money that all my amazing friends and family have given to me to make this ride will go to fund future research and targeted therapies for children and adults with cancer. This money actually is used to fund experimental research that might otherwise not be funded by government agencies. And it is these out-of-the-box thinkers that have come up with some of our most needed and helpful treatments.
There is no single cure for cancer. Instead there are various forms of cancer and within each type of cancer there are many sub-sets –each needing it’s own treatment. Finding the cure(s) for cancer is an on-going battle that needs on-going funds. The Pan Mass challenge supplies those on-going funds every year. This is why I am riding in the PMC. I am proud to be a part of something so very important and I will remember that this weekend when fear and worry begin to creep into my psyche. I will remember those we have lost but I will also remember how many are now being saved, myself included, because of the amazing and powerful work being done at Dana-Farber — work that is fueled by the PMC.