Friday night I rode in my first Cycle for Survival Times Square Takeover. It was everything.
I heard about Cycle for Survival from my friend who has participated in it for years, first with and then in honor of his fiance, who battled rare cancer. So when he found out about my diagnosis he wasted no time convincing me to come ride with “my people.”
Cycle is an event put on by Equinox and Memorial Sloan Kettering that raises money to fund rare cancer research – 100% of the proceeds are donated to MSK. In 2016, Cycle raised $30 million, and $2 million of that went to sarcomas. Funding research like this is the most effective way we can learn more about these diseases, and in the process take a stand against them. The work being done at MSK is saving lives, and I heard some of those stories first-hand on Friday night.
My doctor was trained at MSK. When she and her Dartmouth colleagues were discussing whether or not to radiate me, she also asked the opinion of her former colleagues at MSK. And when we were reviewing the only metric that attempts to predict my chances of recurrence, it was something that had been developed by doctors at MSK. So you could say I have a connection to what Cycle is all about. Plus when they heard that I was recovering from a sarcoma surgery, I received the nicest card from a dozen people I had never met before sending me good vibes, along with some great Cycle for Survival swag.
My friend was right, I was part of a special community now. One that supports each other, that cheers each other on through the good and the bad, and that understands how it feels to be told you have rare cancer.
I rode with that community in Times Square on Friday. The event was more than a cycling class, it was a party. The energy was high as the instructors led us through group chants and singalongs on our bikes. A band played along with the DJ and dancers moved to the same beat as our legs. It was a struggle to not go all out – I was encouraged against participating in the event since I’m still in the healing phase and technically not supposed to do any very vigorous activity, aka no more than some brisk walking, but there was no way I was not going. So I held back as everyone around me bounced and sprinted, and toward the end had my right foot resting on the bike while my left foot kept the pedals moving. I did what I could my first time around, only 6.5 weeks after surgery, and I would do it again if I could. Just being there with other supporters, seeing what people are doing to help those of us who have been touched by rare cancer, was amazing. Next time, and there will absolutely be a next time, I will be healthy enough to go all out.
Cycle for Survival is one of the best things I’ve done, and I encourage everyone out there to get involved. There are events all across the United States and 2017 registration is open. Please, sign up, and help us beat rare cancers.