Because no two cancer experiences are the same, I am asking fellow cancer warriors and survivors following Pink Gravel to please speak up and respond to the following questions. If you know someone that may be interested in sharing as well, please share this post with them. I hope to collect several and post to this Pink Gravel Blog page and Facebook page in the next few weeks. First names will only be used if used at all.
Pink Gravel is giving you an opportunity to share a little bit about your cancer story on our platform. These stories will also provide a resource for those looking for ideas on how to help themselves or help support someone they know going through treatments.
Send a direct message to the Pink Gravel Facebook page, comment to this blog or if you prefer, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your answers.
If you need a little help, here are my answers:
So if you saw the nice write up that my husband sent to The Mid South folks about how disappointed I was to miss the 2020 race due to chemo treatments a few days back; you will understand why I felt my bubble bust yet again. (BTW, The Mid South was formerly the Land Run 100 and it is a gravel race that has been held annually for several years out of Stillwater, OK. It is one of the premier gravel events of the season. I attended my first 2 years ago and have been hankering to go back ever since).
Below is my comment to Bobby Wintle's follow up video explaining the announcement further about how The Mid South was for 2021 becoming "The Incredibly Socially Distanced Mid South" For the safety of riders and the community, they decided to change up the event and ask those registered to ride their miles from home or a route that one of 8 area bike shops create. I totally understand why and probably the best move, but doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.
Anyway, here is my comment to their video post:
I will not lie, the email I received this morning dropped on me like bomb. (just ask my husband; I think I scared him ha!) If you had seen me, you would have thought I found out I have cancer. . . again. Yes, I was that distraught over this silly little event. It has taken some tears and time to fully digest and come to grips with this development. For personal reasons, like others as I am sure I am not the only one, attending THIS YEARS The Mid South event marked a mile stone for me. This was THE gravel event, I was MOST excited for since being told not to attend last years. I was so relieved when the deferrals were given for 2021. This morning, I was sad to see it semi-disappear. It took about 5.5 hours from first reading the news and an order of Dairy Queen cheese curds but I think I am ok now. I will survive - we all will survive - again as Covid KO's beloved event.
At this moment, I don't know where I will ride out of but I WILL RIDE my 50 miles somewhere that weekend. I encourage others to do the same and not turn to a complete sour grape as I almost did. And just so you are aware The Mid South - whether I am fortunate enough to catch Randy Randomizer eye(s) or not next year, I am getting a dang hug in 2022.
PS. . . I appreciate the video follow up. worth the effort as it helped ease the pain. #positivevibing #pinkgravel #pinklemonade
The Mid South replies:
Hey Amy, I know how much you wanted this. Needed it. That's what made this such a hard decisions. I want to commend you for your outlook. It shows how strong you really are. Out of all the people who could be cross about this decision, I know you'd be justified. Good on you for processing it and sharing it out. Please, please stay committed to your ride. Share it with us, but do it for you! I know this isn't our first choice, but I can say it's going to make cheering you into the finish line in 2022 that much more meaningful! Pack the cheese curds!
I share this because sometimes things don't go exactly how you want even when you pay your dues, do as your told and wait patiently. Sometimes, you are asked to hang on a bit longer. It is tough and disappointing, but seriously, is it the end of the world? Not even close. Just think of it as going to the doctor, sitting in the lobby for an hour, finally getting called in. . . only to sit for another 40 minutes in another room. Hang in there, eventually, we get seen. . . ugh and weighed . . . maybe pass on the cheese curds.
I was sitting in a big leather chair at the Cancer Center of Kansas receiving my first chemo treatment. It was a 4.5 hour process - mainly due to it being the first one of the series with additional instruction and prep. My husband and my Mom joined me as we sat at one end of the room that contained about 6-8 of these chairs. Each with a rolling IV pole hem. It was very surreal. I had known for a month that I would getting chemo, but here I sat actually "plugged in" via a port that had been implanted in my chest. Today, I still have that port. It is easy to find as a 1.5 inch scar marks the spot.
I get emotional thinking about that day. Will I still have these emotions two years from now? three? or four? I suspect yes. Especially if FB and my journal app continues to remind me of past posts. I laugh about those posts now as I remember when this all started, I said to my mom or maybe it was my siblings or husband how I was not going to be one of "those people" that overshares their cancer troubles or hashtag "insert cancer phrase here" on social media. Nor was I going to wear pink tees, bracelets and cancer ribbons. That stuff wasn't for me. I don't need to "advertise" my experience. No way was I doing that. But. . . here I am. . . writing on my Pink Gravel page.
While I eat those past words, I do know why my thought process changed. It wasn't accidental. And I know some may be disappointed that I failed to resist. Especially after scrolling past my posts. . . my long posts. I admit, it can be annoying; but those posts and shares do serve a purpose to the one fighting.
Now, I can only speak for myself. I learned those actions are not done for attention or a sympathy grab. (I actually don't handle attention too well, it makes me uncomfortable) I found that embracing cancer ribbons, quotes and hashtags helped get through it all and continues to be apart of my healing process. While my body was cut, injected with chemicals then blasted with radiation; my brain was left hanging trying to grasp my new physical weaknesses, side effects and challenges. All the same time, trying to remain calm and not freak out. I also did not want my family, my friends to freak out or feel sad about what I was going thru either. If you worry about me, then I worry more, then you worry more and so on. I found rallying behind cancer awareness, sharing stories, wearing pink and liking anything with a screw cancer vibe was a welcomed distraction for my brain and it is a fun way for others to show support . . . especially when limited due to Covid. These actions made my low moments shorter and less frequent which in turn helped keep the family spirits up too.
So a win, win.
And let's be real, who doesn't have fun rocking hot pink?
The following was posted by The Mid South team to their Instagram and Facebook accounts on January 5, 2021.
Very sweet of my husband write and very cool of The Mid South to publish. Gives me the feels every time I read it.
The Mid South writes:
This story was shared by Jon from Manhattan KS.
2020 has been a challenge is an amazing understatement! What a year it has been. Ours actually started Halloween 2019 when my wife, Amy was handed a real challenge. That is when she received her cancer diagnosis. After a little crying and hugging, I swear to God, the first words out of her mouth were "I'm not going to get my Bobby hug".
COVID-19 hit just as she was beginning chemotherapy and we were advised to stay home. This was a tough decision as we had so many friends competing and wanted to be there to support them.
As you can imagine the chemo and radiation were brutal, but she never lost her spirit or sense of humor, at least in public, even letting our girls paint her head like Easter eggs. Her energy was zapped and simple walks were as tough as a 50 mile ride in a Kansas wind storm.
The pictures attached are from the Virtual Solstice Quarantine Ride 100k in Beatrice Ne., her first ride just a few months after chemo and days after radiation. It was hot and extremely windy. We took it in 10 mile chunks and just kept pushing. SHE NEVER WALKED A SINGLE HILL!
While recovering, she realized there just wasn't a support group for active people recovering from cancer and wanting to get back into competition. Thus Pink Gravel was born. She created a foundation to support, sponsor and encourage those recovering and trying to get back up and running, riding, whatever. She finished 2020 off by providing SAG support at several events and even hosting her own, Just A Chill Ride with chili, cinnamon rolls and Lazy Horse Brewery beer for all who attended.
We deferred last year's Mid South entry, so we will be there with all of our Black Squirrel Cycling League friends representing the Pony Express Gravel Dash and Pink Gravel and ready to roll. And this year will be even more special when she rolls over that line.
Even if Bobby has to put on a hazmat suit, that girl deserves a hug!!!"
If you have cycling friends like mine, they have been posting their 2020 Strava, Garmin or Wahoo accomplishments the last couple days. It is truly impressive to see what others have done. 2000 miles. 6000 miles, 8000 miles, 10,000 miles! Wow! Congrats! Takes a lot of time on the seat and effort to rack up those miles.
Personally, it is a bit intimidating. Others have obviously spent more time riding than myself in 2020. Many legit reasons and some straight up lazy ones contributed to much less activity in comparison. If not careful, I could easily plunge into a downward spiral and be upset about my lack of activity.
My few hundred miles.
I wasn't about to share my stat for 2020. . . till the other day, when I was talking of the thousands of miles my friends had for 2020 and then turned to scoff at my own statistics, my sister said, "Hey, that's at least one mile a day." I don't know if she realizes the mental shift she just instilled.
A mile plus for each day. Humm. . . that is still not too shabby. Throw in cancer, Covid-19 restrictions, canceled events, weather, work, and remote schooling. Not bad at all. I can honestly say that a majority of those miles I collected was with my husband and great friends. Each has a good memory attached to it. 64 - Solstice Quarantine ride, 38 - Lazy Horse ride, 34 - Just a Chill ride, 100 miles of FHNT.
Taking a little time to reflect and appreciate those miles brings a smile. Good times.
So, if you are like me, intimidated by the miles you see being posted, instead of feeling bad for not doing more, embrace your miles. Feel proud you made the effort to get out. Think of how many didn't or couldn't.
It is still something and not nothing.
Cuz let's be real. 2020 sucked. So rejoice in the fact you didn't let your Strava account get deactivated due to 366 days of inactivity.
And that my friends, is positive vibing!
I am just a 40 something married lady with kids who likes to ride gravel when life lets me. Just so happens I was called into the Cancer Club on October 31, 2019. Fought my fight with surgery, chemo, radiation, friends, family and lots of dark humor. I find sharing my experience helps me. Maybe it can help you.