Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Attitude is Everything

This year, Team Fish or Cut Bait came to the LiveSTRONG Challenge in Philadelphia with a renewed focus. First, I wanted to finish the damned thing. Last year, many of you will recall my getting picked up by the "Chuck Wagon" about 2 miles from the finish line (I thought it was 4, but measured it at a very disappointing 2 miles). Last year was an out and out sufferfest. It was nearly 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, my brother Pat got three flat tires in the first eight miles, and we got passed by a very encouraging Grandmother and her granddaughter, which turned out to be very discouraging the third time she went by.

All that to say, I wanted to PWN this thing this year. At first, I wasn't even sure I was going to ride. I've had three jobs since then, life has been nuts, and I wasn't sure I was up to it. Then a some things happened. First, I lost a good friend, Bob Heffenfinger. Bob taught me a lot about living, and just as much about dying...with grace. Even when cancer ate his insides out, he never complained, never whined, always kept a smile on his face and joy in his heart. I miss him dearly, even now. All my brothers in men's group, I am sure, would say the same thing.

I started a new job in June this year. Less than a month after I started, my boss, Corey, was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately, they caught his in time, and even though he has been in twice already for back up procedures, he continues to fight and beat his cancer.

These things reminded me of something my friend Bill Moore taught me when I was first diagnosed. We, the living, the survivors, have a responsibility. It's to kick cancer's ass. Seriously. Look, I'm no doctor, and I'm never going to be the scientist who discovers the cure for cancer. But there are things I can do, and one of them is ride a bicycle. Not always fast, not always far, but I can do it. God gave me the strength and the love of riding. He also gave me the lessons I need, the reminders of my responsibilty to the people who came before me, and those who come after me.

So, I gritted my teeth, put my cleats to the pedals and trained, hard, because I wanted to finish this year. I wanted to show cancer it had picked the wrong guy. That I'm still alive. That I'm still here. Still full of fight, because that's what we do. We're survivors, and we fight. Always.

When I arrived, I was down to a trim fighting weight of 191 pounds, the lightest I have been since cancer. The difference was that I was a healthy 191 now. I was focused on the ride. I was focused on why I was here. I was focused on what had to be done. I was ready.

Attitude is Everything.

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