Pedal the Cause

I'm riding: Metric Century

Start time: 7:15 am

Team: Express Scripts

ID: 145776

Lifetime total: $3,901.17

I am riding In Memory of Joel Johnson, Stacy Bostic, Clifford Duvall.

I am riding In Honor of John Roland.


Have you ever met one of those people that make you want to be a better person when you are in their presence? Have you ever met someone who asks "How are you today?" and they actually mean it? Do you have someone that has been a blessing to you and your kids? The kind of person you want your kids to be surrounded by? That is who Joel Johnson was to many and John Roland continues to be today.

I am riding this year in memory and honor of Joel and John. While Joel died from cancer and John survived, I would argue that they both won their fight with cancer in the way that they choose to live life during their cancer journey. So this year, not only am I riding to raise funds that stay right here in St. Louis for cancer research but also to advocate for reframing the way we talk about winning or losing the battle with cancer. Something that I had never really thought twice about until I listened to Joel's son, Blake, deliver his eulogy earlier this year.

Individuals with cancer lose many things of importance. As soon as they hear the words "you have cancer," they lose control over their lives, as medical appointments immediately begin to shape their daily schedules. They may lose the ability to participate in activities that bring them joy, as a result of chronic treatment adverse effects such as neuropathy, bowel issues, or lymphedema. Too many lose their lives. We also commonly hear the statement that someone has "lost their battle with cancer."

When we talk about the "battle," we minimize the real issues faced by individuals with cancer every day. They deal with and sometimes overcome nausea, pain, fatigue, and weight loss. They suffer the isolation that comes with a diagnosis. For those with potential curative disease, they live with the fear of recurrence and impact of chronic adverse effects. Unless you have been in their shoes, it is often hard to imagine the challenges faced every day by cancer patients, and we oftentimes do not fully credit them for their persistence and resilience in their journey. Let us recognize them for all the challenges that they overcame in their journey. Let us not declare them losers at the end of this journey. When someone completes a triathlon, a marathon, or even their first 5K, we credit them for their training, commitment, and aspirations. We never declare anyone from the second-place to last-place finishers in the event to be losers.

Perhaps, rather than speaking of cancer in militaristic terms, it's better to communicate that they are "living with cancer" for as long and as well as they can. And when a person dies, let's not say he/she/they has lost anything, but rather that person has died after living with cancer for a period of time.

Joel's and John's cancer journey reminds me of my favorite quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: "Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you're no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn't just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are the things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here's where things grow."

But of course, without the top you can't have any sides. It's the top that defines the sides. For Joel and John, the top of that Mountain is a life that fully embraces Micah 6:8 - to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Joel, Vince Gill put it best, "Go rest high on that mountain. Son, your work on earth is done." John, so on you go - you have a long way with continued MRIs and follow-up visits every six months for the next five years - no hurry - just one step after the next. Continue to LIVE life steadfast in your faith in God. You are an inspiration and blessing to all those fortunate to connect with you on one point or another of this life's journey. Thank you especially for the way that you have led and mentored our youth over the years.

It is my hope that one day we will have a world without cancer ? that treatments will all be as effective as they were with John as well as for Miles who introduced you to on my first PTC ride ? but until that day I will continue to ride and take inspiration from those who have lived and are living with cancer. Thank you in advance for your consideration in supporting me knowing that 100% of the funds raised stay in our area and have helped to fund 98 adult and 32 pediatric innovative cancer research efforts.