A few weeks ago, one of the greatest adventures of my life came to a close. I am proud that I have created something that people I have never met wanted to read; I am proud that I have raised almost three times as much as my original target and that I have carried forward a great cause. I think that if all the money spent on wars were given to cancer research finding a cure to cancer would not be talked about as an unrealistic dream but it would seem an attainable goal in the near future. It is a naif thought but it is true nonetheless. I hope that governments and people in general will devote more attention to cancer research and will invest more resources on efforts to funding a cure. I know that I will.
My bicycle ride might be over but my fight continues. The spirit with which I took on the wind and the mountains of America is an inextinguishable flame. It carries on within. And with it I will fight my cancer. I could have spent the past 5 months sulking, brooding, damning life but I decided not to. It would be a losing battle. This is the card I have been dealt, it is a shitty deal but I accept it. Maybe this is my plan; it is my call, as religious people would describe it. And so I set out on a journey of body and mind. And if along the way I have inspired people...I am happy. I am convinced that no matter how desperate things are, your mind and your heart shape your approach to life. My cookie fortune message is this: your life is yours, until the very end. You control it.
This journey was tougher than expected and if you have been kind enough to read my blog you have gotten only a glimpse of how tough it was out there. 100-mile days in the wind, the cold, the rain, the trucks and the traffic and the fear of being sick often felt like a punishment but it was never eclipsed by the joy of receiving messages of support from friends, acquaintances and complete strangers that wanted to support me, share their struggles and thanked me for what I did. It is because of your vicarious participation in this journey that I made it to Vancouver. It is thanks to your love that I have reached the Pacific coast. Had I been alone, I would have quit along the way.
The complete solitude of cycling hundreds of miles in the open land of North America made me stronger. Despite the pain and the struggle, I was happy. and I loved every minute of it. Well...almost! When I look at my face in the mirror and I turn my head slightly to the right I can still see the patch of skin on the top of my forehead that showed through the gaps of the helmet and that has been darkened by the sun light. I look at my hands and see the ridiculous tan line of the gloves that seems to cut my fingers in two. The line above the knees is still abundantly clear and so is the tan line on my forearms. When I walk to work I spot reminders of my trip all the time. Every time I see a cyclist I check out the bike and the gear and compare it to mine. When I feel the wind graze my skin I chuckle and revel in the thought that it could never be as strong as it was on an open road in Montana or Minnesota. When I wait at a red light I look up and gaze the deep blue of the sky and imagine myself cycling under the skies of the vast grasslands in North Dakota. Wherever I am I close my eyes and I see the endless lines of the horizon that frustrated me so much out there but taught me much more. The things we love never go away.
It is true that from now on my life will be from blood test to blood test, hospital visits to doctor’s emails and anxious waits in between. I cannot change that. But it is up to me to choose whether I want to be devoured by the anxiety or to just live my life and enjoy the ride, be it 1 month or twenty years. The sense of expectation with which I began each cycling day of my bike ride will be the same with which I will take on the next mountains.