When I was an undergrad at the University of Miami in the early 1990s the Hurricane football team won 58 home games in a row — a winning-streak record they still hold. On September 24, 1994 the Washington Huskies beat the Canes at the Orange Bowl and ended the run. My friends and I sat in the stands heartbroken that day, and yet I have to admit that a part of me was actually relieved. The pressure to always be perfect felt like a mountain weighing on our shoulders, and finally we didn’t have to hold our breath anymore with each snap. If the Canes lost another home game — so what. We could still win national championships with losses, and we did.
For the past four and a half years I have felt the pressure of perfection with each cancer scan. At first we expected that they’d show some growth, but when it never happened I felt like I would be seen as a failure if my cancer did grow. Well, Wednesday, for the first time since my diagnosis in 2007, we saw a little growth on the scans. A little growth. Very little. The way I see it, if we see this little growth every four to five years, I’m still way ahead in this chess-game-style battle against cancer.
I’ll admit though that I was shocked. Part of me thought that I had to start seeing cancer progression pretty soon — it’s been a long winning streak — but part of me held on to the hope that I could go indefinitely with no action. And yet when I heard the not-so-great news from my doctor, once again, crazy as it sounds, I felt a bit relieved. As with the Canes, I no longer had to strive for perfection anymore.
We were, as you’d expect, a bit bummed on our drive home from Hopkins, but then Tommie came up with a great idea: “Let’s go get those bike wheels today.” Brilliant! We had bounced around the idea of upgrading the wheels on our road bikes to Zipp 303s and what better time than right after bad news from the cancer center to do it.
These wheels are expensive — they cost more than most bikes– so we took them for a test drive before committing to buying them. If we couldn’t feel any major difference, it would not be worth the price.
Did we like the wheels, you ask? Holy. Crap. Riding on Zipp wheels was maybe the best thing to happen to me all year. OK. Tommie’s tumor shrinking gets top billing, but the wheels come in a close second. We went on a training ride yesterday, and I broke all my personal records on both flats and hills. I felt incredibly athletic and invincible. At midnight I was still beaming from such an athletic and fun ride. One of the perks of the wheels? Flying even faster downhill. Who needs roller coasters or zip lines when you have hills and a bike?
Lance Armstrong says “It’s not about the bike,” but I’ve got to say that to me, it IS about the bike. Scans can show tumors all they want, but if I continue to get faster and stronger on two wheels, I’ll know I’m healthy. I cannot WAIT to climb the dreaded hills of the Philly Livestrong Challenge in August to celebrate five years of health since my cancer diagnosis. 100 miles over 8,000 feet of climb. Peace of cake.
Live strong, Friends! I know I will.
Oh, and eff you, Cancer.