Cancer has affected me personally through seeing my family members battle this disease. My mother is a two-time cancer survivor. She was first diagnosed when I was a senior in high school. I remember being scared to death because we all knew that cancer ran in her family, and it had been a death sentence to all before her. My mom was a fighter though, and she beat the disease. After that, it was like everyone we knew was being touched by this thing. My grandfather was next, and we took care of him while he fought his battle that he would eventually lose. My mom was then diagnosed a second time and, being out of options in our small rural community, we took her to UVA where she was cared for and beat cancer for the second time. After her bouts, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, there was a gap where we all just lived life. I’ve since had two uncles pass away, and in 2012 my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. She, too, I’m proud to say, is a survivor. Even in the survivors, treatment takes a lasting toll. There is always the thought, “If only we had known sooner, the outcomes could have been better,” but we will never know.
I have been interested in the work of the V Foundation for some time. I began donating in honor of an uncle that I lost. I love that my individual donations go directly to fund cancer research, and I love the transparency of the Foundation as well. I remember getting my first newsletter detailing breakthroughs that had been made in early detection and just thinking, “Wow, how many lives might this save?” I survived a heart attack as a 27-year-old and needed to be more diligent in my fitness, so when I saw an ad for the inaugural Victory Ride last year, I jumped at the opportunity because now I’m riding for more than just me. It made me feel like part of something much bigger than just me.
I have enjoyed both rides, and I hope to continue participating for many years to come. If I were unable to ride, I’d still volunteer. I think just seeing so many people out there doing something together for others and honoring the memories of those fighting and those we’ve lost is just overwhelming. This event is fun, but it is a challenge. I’ve seen some gorgeous scenery and met some amazing people and really pushed myself farther than I thought I’d be able to go in times past. There have been very few accomplishments in my life that made me feel better than crossing the finish line and hearing “Welcome Back Rider” on the PA and the cheers from the volunteers and supporters. It really does make you feel like a million bucks. I think, by far, the best thing about it though is knowing that I’m helping others beat cancer.
During the fundraising effort, I used Facebook, and just asking people at work. Having the donate button on Facebook helped this year. I lost some donors from last year, but picked up more than I lost this year. I have enjoyed following the blog this year and learning what other folks have done has definitely helped me to get a better game plan for next year. I look forward to improving on the fundraising goals next year.
I would definitely say that Victory Over Cancer®, for me, means the elimination of this disease from the face of the earth. In the meantime, there are many small victories to be won. Early detection is a start for sure. The sooner you can identify the disease, the better the odds. I just hope one day, cancer is something that we only have to read about in a history book.