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When I was sick with breast cancer in 2016, I started making lists of things that were true for me at that time. There were things I never knew until that time… things I couldn’t ever have fathomed… some of the darker things even my wildest, most anxious nightmares wouldn’t have conjured. I had dealt with fear of my health suddenly taking a scary turn for most of my life, but to have it actually happen was more than I thought I could bear. No amount of living, or vigilance, or even prior traumatic experiences can prepare someone to learn they have cancer, especially when you’re young, about to move into a new home with your (relatively) new husband, and planning to start a family a few months later. Life has a messed up way of screeching to a halt, throwing a curve, and knocking you flat when you least expect it. Having a team for a cycling event formed in my honor because I had cancer and got treated at Roswell Park is not something I ever thought would happen to me either, but honestly, it has become one of my life’s greatest blessings.
(Now is obviously the time I segue into a list inspired by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Ride for Roswell.)
Some thoughts and “suggestions”:
The Ride for Roswell weekend is an enormous, inspirational undertaking. The spirit surrounding the day is hopeful, celebratory, and fueled by a common goal of ending the darkness and despair that cancer brings. If you’ve donated in the past but never attended any of the events, make this your year to do it. You don’t need to do the Ride itself; just be a part of it in some way. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen— and I want you to experience it too!
I have an incredible team. Since 2016, we have raised almost $75,000 for Roswell Park, and have a blast doing it. Let’s Get Lizzycle is in our 7th(!!!) year. My dear friend and coworker Debbie Timineri shocked me by founding the team when I was in treatment, and I am always so proud to work with her every year to raise even more money than the year before. Huge shout-out to my work partner-in-crime and dude I could never imagine life without, Martin Pugliese, who has been an integral part of Team LGL since its inception and always goes above and way WAY beyond for our fundraising events and always comes with me to pick up signed hockey sticks from the Alliance Foundation. What I love most about our team is that it’s a blended family of sorts for me… current and former coworkers, fellow survivors and caregivers, family members who are also friends, friends who have become our family, and of course, my sweetie pie and the love of my life, my Jarrbrr. The Ride brings people together from so many facets of our life, and I am super grateful for it.
Let’s get real: at the end of the day, cancer wouldn’t be so damn scary if people didn’t die from it. It’s simply horrible. The only way people will stop dying from it is when the appropriate funds are available to help scientists uncover the mechanisms by which cancer evades and makes fools of even the smartest clinicians. My cancer friends and I live every day in the shadow of the fear that we won’t see our kids grow up; that a headache is due to brain mets and isn’t just a migraine; that despite all our best efforts, and even though we were treated by the experts at the “#14 comprehensive cancer center in the United States,” that cancer can still “win.” I have met some of the dearest people in my life because of our shared experience with cancer, and I will be damned if I had to lose them too. That’s just not something I will allow, and I will fight forever to keep it that way. Research dollars funneled to the people who know how to fast-track an idea to a cure— combined with the existing resources of Roswell Park—is the only route that can take us where we want to go.
So as I was saying, I love The Ride for Roswell. I love that I have a tangible, impactful way to give to the place that has supported me in every way since my first “one day with them” on December 14, 2015. I am so proud to be part of this local tradition, knowing first-hand that I am helping to ensure that the evidence-based, research-intensive, stellar care that I have received is available to the next 36-year-old newlywed who hears those scary words. I have benefitted from Roswell’s services in countless ways: acupuncture, psychotherapy, concert tickets (!), retreats, Reiki, physical therapy, clinical trials, and plenty of others. I love meeting other people who have done The Ride for years, hearing the stories of why they ride and, often, the person who first “talked them into it”— and now they can’t imagine their life without that amazing weekend. I certainly can’t either, and I suggest you join us this year.
Thanks for being here for us.
#research #fcancer #RFR22