Thursday, July 22, 2010

Team Fish or Cut Bait's Fourth Annual LiveSTRONG Ride

I remember asking God to make me more like Lance Armstrong (you're welcome, ladies). Four years ago, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Maybe I should have been more specific.

I went through a range of emotions when I was diagnosed: fear, confusion, depression, denial. But mostly I felt anger. Anger that this disease might take me away from my family and a full lifetime of memories with Mrs. Fish, that it might keep me from seeing my daughter graduate or get married or raise a family of her own. I vowed to fight cancer every moment, to take it out to the street and stomp it, to throw down the gloves and give it a Broad Street Bullies-style whupping. I've been in the battle ever since.

Regular readers of the Fish-Blog know my cancer story and have been instrumental in my survival. My team came together and I was incredibly blessed to have a strong family, an incredible team of doctors and nurses, and a group of friends who supported me in ways I never would have or could have imagined. You visited me, cooked for my family, cut my lawn, delivered care packages, e-mailed me, prayed for me, and supported me in my fight. I learned cancer, and more importantly, surviving cancer, is about people coming together.

Three years ago, we formed Team Fish or Cut Bait and went to the LiveSTRONG Challenge, a 100-mile bike ride in Philadelphia, to raise money to fight cancer. The first Challenge featured my brother, Patfish Hunter, and I riding through what was one of the most difficult and most amazing things I have ever done. Difficult because it was about 100 degrees with Pennsylvania's legendary humidity (if it's not hazy, hot, and humid, it's not August). Amazing because of the incredible outpouring of support I received and the people I met along the way. I was the very last person to cross the line of the 2007 LiveSTRONG Challenge. Yet, I can still hear the P-A system announcer saying: “NOW CROSSING THE LINE, NUMBER 468, ROBERT DUFFIELD. SURVIVOR!”

What started as my brother and I riding and a small, dedicated group of supporters who helped raise nearly $1,000 has evolved into a team of riders, and features nearly 100 people pledging their support to help us fight cancer and raising more than $4,000. Team Fish continues to grow because of the generous support we have received.

It's been a tough year. Last year, I dedicated a good portion of my ride to Collin Marsh, the two-year-old boy who fought so valiantly to beat a rare form of cancer. This year, I'll ride in his memory, thinking of the brave fight he put up, and how he inspired so many of us to be better people. As I was writing this, I heard from a guy I barely knew, a husband and father of two young children who is gearing up for the fight of his life. A man who helped form the foundations of my faith was diagnosed this year, and my Uncle Ted as well. We ride for all of them, for our friends and family and those dealing with the diagnosis of a mom or dad, a friend, a brother or sister, or even a child. You'll meet them throughout the course of the ramp-up to this year's event.

I am asking you to join Team Fish or Cut Bait once again. My friend Greg kicked things off in grand style, covering the ENTIRE RACE INSTALLMENT for me. My friend Bob quickly followed suit to get me started off and moving, and for their gifts, I am eternally grateful. If you'd like to join them and be part of Team Fish, we would LOVE to have you with us. I assure you no amount is too small -- all I want is to have you stand with us. It's easy: CLICK HERE to make a donation and become part of the team.

Now, who's with us?

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