“You did a great job yesterday, riding 303 km. Today’s a recovery ride. Nice easy 198 km on the prairies” they said.
Today was probably our hardest day so far as a team. The tailwind turned into a 30 km/hour headwind/crosswind and was BRUTAL. By the first rest stop we were exhausted. Trying to ride 100 km and make progress against a 30 kph wind is like riding up a 6% hill for 100km at the same speed. Everyone was getting frustrated, tired and cranky. We ended up having to shuttle 40 km as we were so far behind schedule. tempers were frayed, nerves were jangling and everyone was sore.
And then Fiona happened.
This was her post that i read in the shuttle.
Day 5 – Swift Current to Moose Jaw
Holy moly what a day! 178 km ride! My new longest record. Tough in many aspects. Let’s start with the body. I am 54 yrs old – have had 3 Caesarean sections, 3 whiplashes, a herniated lumbar disc & broke my leg last year but my motto is “just doing it”.
Today’s ride was hard for me personally as I was battling some side winds (& I am little & feel the wind more) & my ASS hurts like heck! I am starting to get pressure points on my sit bones & that is not what you want to have when on a bike / they can turn into open sores. Tomorrow I will try to wear 2 pairs of shorts. It got me thinking of when my son was palliative & had terrible bed sores. This is not an analogy but rather a segway into what some kids endure. You have a lot of time to think when out on the bike & I started reminiscing of the way Cancer affected my sons body. It was horrible & I have never been able to get the images out of my mind. Simons vibrant little soul wasted away slowly. He became so skinny. He lost the fat on his body & became emaciated. He developed a horrible rash all over his body that itched & looked like the measles. He became bald…& then went slightly cross eyed. He couldn’t walk. & then he couldn’t talk, or eat, or even swallow. We had to moisten his mouth so he wouldn’t suffer with his throat. We had to keep repositioning his body because the sores were so bad & he winced every time we moved him even though he was so drugged up. He couldn’t tell us how painful it was as the cancer took his voice so we had to gauge things by the way he winced or cried. He didn’t look like Simon anymore & we had to stop all visitation because it all became so ugly. Those images will never leave me. They haunt me often. This is why I ride. I don’t ever want you to ever see such a thing happen with your child!!!
After Simon died, it was really hard to relate to people for a while as I could never be able to explain to them how bad it was. I didn’t want them to know at first because it would crush their souls if I told them. So I just wore it inside.
It was also hard to see people for the first time after he died because they didn’t know what to say to me & it was awkward for them too. But I am now able to change all this. I live in a small community of about 6,000 people in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. We all know each other & one of the big reasons I ride is that I want to show others in my community that people like me can be a big part of change with grace. I know I can be instrumental in raising awareness & creating hope for other families in knowing that change IS happening… there is hope for your child ….but you can’t have change without effort. I am hoping that my crazy efforts in riding across the country on a bicycle will make people stand up & take notice & maybe even say “if she can do something, so can I”. People don’t realize how big kids cancer is. We are talking 1 in every 285 kids in Canada are affected. We don’t know whose child will be next. It could easily be yours so do not be so naive in thinking that it can’t be yours next. It could easily be. Would you not want to know that there is hope (or a cure)for your child if they were afflicted?
Part of my personal mandate here is to help the families I meet along the way dealing with their children’s cancer by letting them know that people like me really do care & they are not alone in their journeys! We as a collective NKCR team all care & we are raising a ton of money to develop more drugs & protocols that will save their child. If I can save even 1 child, then my ass sores will be all worth it!
I read this out to our Team the riders and the volunteers. They needed to hear this. To refocus on why we are doing this crazy shit.
I lost it.
Got to the end and she broke me. She also broke Allison, our nurse. We clung together and cried like babies. And Allison slapped me for not giving her any warning. Because we were both there for Simon. We looked after him from when he was first diagnosed, until we sent him home to die because we couldn’t make him live any more. We saw everything that Fiona saw. But not in the same way that she did, since we see this too many times with too many other kids. But today we saw through Fiona’s eyes. And the eyes of every parent who lost a child like this.
We finished our ride as a team. In one piece. And relieved that eh had made it to Carlyle together.
Two quotes resonated and made today.