I just finished my sixth LiveSTRONG Event. Each year, it coincides, roughly, with the anniversary of my diagnosis with testicular cancer. I am one of the lucky ones. I am a survivor. So I get to live my life, and part of my role as a survivor has been wrapped up helping to fight this horrible disease. I choose to raise money for the LiveSTRONG Foundation (www.laf.org) and ride my bicycle as far as I can. So I trucked down to Philadelphia on Saturday to pick up my race packet and get the goods for Team Fish.
One of the most important things I do every year is take a list of the names of those affected by cancer, the people my supporters have asked me to remember on this day. I add those names to the Wall of Remembrance. Every year, the list gets a little longer. Still, it seemed I noticed more people who are fighting and winning this year.
People sometimes ask me about where the money goes and if does any good. Less than 50 years ago, what I had was considered a death sentence. Now, it has a 95% survival rate. Look at the statistics of colon cancer, breast cancer and so many others, and you'll see a similar trend. According to one study in 1997, one in 4 patients survived cancer in the 1940s. Just two decades later, that figure jumped to one in three. Today, we are at more than 50% survival rates. And, those with the disease are experiencing an improved quality of life while under treatment; surgery is less radical; and even chemotherapy is producing fewer side effects. We are learning about this disease, and because we are learning, we are winning. It's one of the basic tenets of the LAF: Knowledge is Power.
After posting the names of those friends and family members, I registered for my team. Fortunately, I got there right under the wire. As always, the volunteers were friendly and AWESOME! I love the volunteers at the LiveSTRONG event and realize just how integral they are to the success of the event. Nadia and Amanda took quick care of me, got my registration packets together and I was off to the hotel.
I stayed in a completely different place this year. For the first four years, I went down to the area and stayed with my mother-in-law. Last year she got sick, so I stayed in a hotel right next to where she was staying so I could stop in and say hello. Sadly, she passed away this year, so I stayed at a Hilton Homewood Suites a little closer to the event. Jessie, the girl behind the desk, checked me in and I was set.
My brother, "Patfish Hunter", showed up close to dinnertime. Pat has ridden with me in ALL SIX EVENTS and I am so glad to have him ride with me. We went out to carbo-load for dinner at Boca, a nice Italian Restaurant with good food and exceptionally slow service. Note to Italian restaurants: add extra staff on LiveSTRONG weekend. Just sayin'.
Coming back to the hotel, we settled in to watch Stars Earn Stripes (which was surprisingly excellent) and then called it a night. I set up my wake-up call for 6.00 am and then settled in for a remarkably deep and comfortable night's sleep. I don't usually sleep well on the road, so this was a great exception.