There are many, many reasons why I decided to take the leap and ride in this year’s Pan Mass Challenge. I have thought about doing this ride for quite a while, but always let myself get scared off by silly things like the fundraising commitment or the length of the ride.
This year is different. On August 2 I will hop on my bike and ride across Massachusetts, to raise money, raise awareness, and celebrate the lives of each and every person whose life has been touched by cancer.
One of my biggest inspirations for my ride, and the person who gave me the shove I needed to commit to this cause is someone I have never actually met.
I started following Karin Diamond’s blog in 2009 while I was working at Hartford Hospital. Her writing, chronicling her life as she dealt with the diagnosis and treatment of Stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma, was simply phenomenal. I quickly catapulted myself to straight up fangirl status, eagerly awaiting her newest posts. There was much I loved about her writing and stories… we were similar in age, similar in interests. But mostly – it was the way she LIVED. Her journey was long and full of complications, setbacks, and bumps in the road that could make Mount Everest look like a pebble in the way. Throughout it all, her outlook was overwhelmingly positive and incredibly inspiring.
Karin’s writing and her journey hit home for a number of reasons. The way she capitalized on every opportunity, living every moment to its fullest, is a lesson I have tried to carry with me and share since beginning to read her writing. Our lives were not so different either; young, active women only a few years apart in age; forging careers, married with a house, a dog, and the future stretching out before us. We had mutual friends and acquaintances, and likely would have crossed paths and met at some point or another. Except we would never get that chance.
Karin lost her battle with cancer in September of 2013. The only reaction I could possibly have was a resounding WHAT THE F**K!?! We were supposed to be reading the book she was going to publish; not her obituary. I was amazed at the emotional impact someone I had never met had on me. Her writing invited you in, and you became a part of the journey she was living.
And so, I will ride. To raise money that I can only hope will help to make some progress in the search for a cancer cure. To raise money for programs to help support patients and their loved ones as they navigate the world of cancer.