All is going well for us, here in Cincinnati as my remission continues and my health seems to be holding up. Elaina is beautiful and fun, as she passes her 19th month of life, and Amanda continues to be the awesome life partner she always has been. The Doctors said the first two years after my treatment ended would be the diciest, and now that those two years are up the anxiety you get from each minor ache and pain (and the associated "O sh*t, is it back?) slowly begins to fade. But you fellow cancer patients know the fear never really goes away, does it?
website link here. You really should donate. Seriously. I'm calling on all of your ethical, spiritual, religious, or mother-supplied guilt to get out the credit card and donate. After all, it's only cash isn't it? We're doing a 109 mile bike ride in Arizona in a couple of weeks in honor of a young lady who, seemingly, was telling cancer to suck it the same time as I, but in the end the cancer bastard took her.
This past weekend was our scheduled long training ride of 80+ miles, and I wasn't able to go with my teammates on Saturday and went by myself on Sunday afternoon. Milford, Ohio to Spring Valley, Ohio and back on the Little Miami Bike Trail. 88 miles on a crisp, Sunny Sunday afternoon. Just shy of 5 hours of saddle time lets you think about the big picture. I did a lot of thinking about life, how blessed I am, and how many other people in my life have fought, lost, and/or won against cancer. I decided I wasn't going to ride just in honor of Jenna Laumer, but also the many others who have directly (or indirectly) fought the same battle as I....
- I ride in memory of my grandfather whom I never knew, Steve Baker, who from what I understand wasn't exactly the "Ward Cleaver" everyone expected of a 1950's father, but made amends later in his life before he lost his battle with melanoma.
- I ride in memory of my grandmother, Fran Willis, who lost her 10 year battle with various types of Breast Cancer over a decade ago. Is there such a thing as a Western version of a Steel Magnolia? She was it.
- I ride in honor of my cousin, Mike Baker. Mikey was 19 when he got the same cancer I had, and if you think my situation was dire - he was, literally, up sh*t creek without a paddle. Guess what? This tough son-of-a-bitch fought back and beat it. Watching him live his life post-cancer, and our subsequent talks, is an inspiration for me.
- I ride in honor of my mom, Linda Baker, who has fought off CLL/SLL for many years through willpower, prayer, and a third-world country feeding quantity of carrot juice. She's orange, seriously. She never let on to me the anguish that a parent must feel when watching a child go through cancer. Cheers Mom, I love you.
- I ride in honor of Daria, a Canadian woman with cancer who reached out to me via the blogosphere when CCSI went online. I followed her struggle electronically, and was saddened that she lost her battle earlier this year. Her blog is here
- I ride in honor of Rachel, a young mother with cancer from the Buckeye State who, like Daria, reached out to my blog. She is in the fight of her life as we speak. I cannot imagine the anguish she is going through with the thought of leaving children behind. She could use your kind words. Her story is here.
- I ride in honor (or memory, I don't know the results) of the young mother who would show up for chemo treatments with her infant daughter, and sit in her treatment room alone.
- I ride in honor of all the medical staff who showed me kindness and caring - in Vail, Denver, and Boston. For all you people who bitch and moan about doctors getting a lot of cash, shut the hell up. They are worth every penny. I especially want to give props to Dr. Hinshaw, Julie, Lucy, Emily, and all the other folks at Rocky Mountain Cancer Center in Denver. You are my angels.
- I ride in honor of all of you who sent me a card, email, facebook post, phone call, funny gift to lift my spirits. It was all amazing.
- I ride for all who went to your church, synagogue, mosque, temple, meeting house, stake, parish, ward, or cathedral to light a candle, spin a disk, or say a prayer. You all know I'm a member of the United Methodist Church and don't necessarily subscribe to all of those actions, but the kindness and care that it meant for you to dedicate your religious observance to me touched my heart.
One final plug - give money, lots of it. Team Jenna and the bike ride is a damn good cause. On Saturday the 19th - be thinking of us as we spin through 100+ miles of desert with a few thousand of our cyclist friends. One small step towards eradication of this horrific family of disease.