Friday, October 8, 2010

Pedal the Cause

The last few posts on the blog have been about racing bikes. This post, is something that I hesitate to write, and even as I sit down to begin, I'll probably end up revising a few times over the weekend.

Ever since February of 2005, I've been walking around knowing that I have metastatic thyroid cancer in my neck and lungs. Since January, I've known it is in my vertebrae. When I applied to medical school in the summer of 2006, a decision which was significantly influenced by my cancer, I had to decide what I would talk about in my interviews and write in my personal statement. I'll never forget the advice I received from a family friend, that living through difficult, even horrible experiences, despite the stigma placed by society, is not a badge of honor. The advice I received was too let it influence me from the inside out. When I started this blog about 1.5years ago, it took me a long time to even write about thyroid cancer.

After last January, my life seemed on the line and my situation much more immediate. I tried to reach out. I basically begged livestrong to let me be involved (which still hasn't happened at all beyond sending me some goodies) and tried to seek out community organizations to help connect to others living with cancer. The opportunity to participate in Pedal the Cause came and after a few months of procrastinating, I admitted to myself that this was something I really truly believed in...down to my heart and soul. I signed up, raised money, volunteered to help in anyway that I could, and feel like I made a good contribution.

Friday night (the night I'm sitting down to write about this), was the kick-off celebration. Honestly, I left feeling quite depressed and I've spent a bunch of time reflecting about how and why.

I'm an idealist. I believe that scientific medical research leads to improvements in peoples lives. However, I begin to feel very uncomfortable when people start talking about a world without cancer. I don't know...can't we just work really hard and try to improve survival? Why does it have to be such a melodramatic goal?

Anyway, that isn't the reason I'm blogging. I think tonight, I felt really shut-out and bummed that I wasn't hanging out with all of my friends at Council Bluff.

Upon our arrival, I saw one of the organizers who I've gotten to know pretty well. Maggie, Cassidy, my mom, and I approached him and soon we found ourselves shooting the breeze with Mr and Mrs Vande Velde about spain, having kids, mud babies...etc. The night seemed like it was off to a great start, they were super nice and we were just having a good time. All of a sudden, Christian inquired about the the scar on my neck (a question that I've been directly asked maybe 5 times in the last 5 years). So, I told him the story..blah, blah, blah...Next thing we knew, he went off to sign autographs and me and the fam went off to walk around. A little while later, we were all called to dinner, so Maggie and Cassidy went to find a table and my mom and I went to grab food. It took awhile, but eventually we met up again at a table that had a little sign that said 'Vande Velde'. I was psyched, since they seemed like such nice people and I was eager to hear more about Spain, racing, etc.

People started filling up the tables around us and as soon as we started eating, we were told that the Vande Velde table was reserved for VIPs, so we had to find someplace else and unfortunately at that point, there wasn't room for 3 adults and a 2 year old at any of the tables. So, we ended up sitting outside on the curb, but still within earshot of the speakers that were beginning their speeches.

That is when the night took a turn for the worse.

Let's just say that one of the speakers really rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like the cancer story was like some kind of Dateline, made for TV event, only from a very in-articulate perspective. It honestly felt like the people that were asked to speak were just friends with the guy organizing the whole thing and didn't have much thoughtful to say. On top of that, they honored and mentioned only the teams that raised tons of money, which were almost exclusively teams with a ton of people on them. I guess it just felt as though it was more about image. The individual above the many. And to me, that isn't what events like this are supposed to be about. I wanted to feel like I was coming together with people, not getting ticked off.

It then felt like I was on the edge of the whole thing.

I don't know...I'm not sure how I feel about these kind of events. Hopefully the ride turns out better tomorrow, but right now, I'm tired and wish I was at Burnin.


TK said...

you know, i think you make enough of an impact on everyday people just by being who you are. probably more than any ride or event.

sorry it didn't turn out the way you thought it would.


David Henderson said...

Progress, not perfection. Still, getting kicked to the curb is pretty far from perfection.

Those bastards! (when things are too serious, I joke. Hence, I'm joking about those bastards.)