For the past 5 years, I have participated in the Annual YAS-A-THON fundraiser spin-a-thon for cures for cancer. I have always done this event in memory of my father who lost his battle to cancer in 1997. All monies raised go to support new cancer therapies and cures through clinical trials and other outlets. It is always an incredibly moving and powerful afternoon.
This year, fresh off the loss of my beloved Shelby to hemangiosarcoma, I made it my personal mission to raise awareness (and funds) to benefit ALL cancer therapies. I am 100% convinced it is modern medical advances in chemotherapies that allowed me the extra 7 months I had with Shelby so this year, I dedicated my three-hour ride to Shelby (and of course my father too). With both their names etched on my arms, I vowed to spin with every ounce of my being.
The entire week leading up to the event was incredibly emotional for me. I knew that my legs would/could handle the endurance of it, I wasn’t sure my heart was strong enough. I have always prided myself on being able to “hold it together” when push comes to shove. But from about Tuesday of last week, I had been in a non-stop tears. Just looking at photos of my beautiful girl rendered me a sobbing mess. Grief is so funny. I felt that it was the first week in April again when I had lost Shelby and had no control over my tears. I longed for a sign from Shelby to tell me/show me that she was OK.
As I headed to the gym yesterday, I put Shelby’s yellow Tripawds bandanna on my arm so that she could ‘ride’ with me. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I prayed for strength. As I clipped myself into the bike, I felt motivated, confident and strong. I could do this. I would do this.
I was wearing a #tripawds tank top and I noticed the photographer kept trying to get shots of the shirt and Shelby’s scarf on my arm. It made pedal stronger, harder, faster.
About 1/2 way into the ride, Kelly Clarkson’s song “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” came on. A woman who was riding in front of me turned around and said this is YOUR song. And it was true. I always said to Shelby during our journey, when I found strength I didn’t know I had, what didn’t kill me was only going to make me stronger. I started to tear up. I felt that lump in the throat. I prayed the sweat running down my neck would make the tears but sadly, the red eyes gave me away. A man on a bike near me gave me a gentle smile and wink, as if to say, it’s going to be OK. I felt the oxygen leaving my lungs (I am a runner, a spinner, a cardio-queen yet I felt that I couldn’t get air into my lungs) but I was absolutely NOT getting off that bike, nor was I going to give up. I looked at my arm and remembered why I was there and I pushed through. Shelby guided me through. She was there with me, on my arm, in my heart, in my soul.
At the end of the event, after three grueling hours on a spin bike, I was soaked through, the bottoms of my feet hurt, I had blisters on my hands from gripping the bike and I felt that I had been hit by a bus. But I will vow to do it again and again until we wipe cancer off the face of the earth.
Tomorrow marks 11 weeks since Shelby left this planet. Almost three months. The pain is just as fresh as it was back in April. I miss her so terribly much. But I am a survivor. I survived this year’s event. And I survive each day I get up. I am #shelbystrong and I know she is with me all the time. She was definitely with me yesterday. Shelby was speedy. She loved to sprint. She loved to climb. She loved to be part of a community. And yesterday was about all those things. And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words… these are for you my best girl.