After this morning's class, I was informed by my RPM instructor that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
I honestly didn't know what to say. My job in life is to be upbeat, positive, dance on my toes in a moments notice while keeping people stoked on what gets me stoked. In this case I sat on the bike, turning the pedals over and choked back the lump in my throat. For one second I wanted to hug her and say everything will be alright. The next moment I wanted to say, 'Phuk cancer, you can beat this!'. Instead I asked Karen what is her next move.
Mastectomy or lumpectomy are her choices. Karen is one of five kids in a family that has no history of breast cancer. The 49 year old triathlete schedules yearly exams but this time found the lump during a self-diagnosis. I asked if this is her first bought with the disease and she answered yes. I ask this lately as I've been hearing about women who go through two rounds with the disease. She was happy to hear about the Tour de Pink next month and asked about the dates. However the ride will conflict with her proceedure. 'Next year!' she said.
The expression on her face and eyes told me that she knows everything will be alright. My career is centered around people, reading facial expression, watching manipulatives, analyzing body gestures to see if they're telling the truth or lying about their 'state of the union'. (Isn't there a show on Fox about this?) Seeing first hand what kind of support structure the Young Survival Coalition (YSC-Tour de Pink) has in place, gave me the confidence to tell Karen that help is out there. It's a journey with the disease that you do not have to go at it alone. The survivors with whom I've ridden with are a stronger species than what most people will encounter on this earth. Their stories are of hope, victory, but never of self-pity.
I'm blessed to know someone like Karen and will ride for her in October at the 2010 Tour de Pink.