Two years after my brother finished and won a battle with stage-2 lymphoma, I got a call from my dermatologist. I had stage-1 invasive melanoma and my lymph nodes needed to be removed for biopsy. I was completely shocked. I’d been through several melanoma in situ surgeries and thought we had my skin under control. After watching my brother’s fight, I knew that I had to immediately adopt the “warrior” persona.
When I walked into the ominous Oncology Surgery Center at UCLA, I kept saying to myself, “you picked the wrong person, cancer. You are going down.” That phrase, along with a few others, became a part of my daily living.
The two weeks following my surgery were filled with the juxtaposition of fear and strength. I was of course afraid of what the doctors would find, but I also knew in my heart of hearts this would not defeat me. I was surrounded by the best support network of family and friends anyone could ever ask for. I thank God every day that those nodes were clear.
Three months after my surgery I was told once again, I had a new melanoma in situ and it needed to be re-excised immediately. I found myself in the middle of a roller coaster of doctor’s visits and what felt like a never ending co-existence with sutures laced across my body.
Finally, I had some relief and decided to go to Angela Bennett’s spin class at Fit On Studios. I sat in the back, not sure how I’d feel. The music started, her inspiring energy filled the room, my legs were moving, and I began to cry. I cried tears of joy and relief that my body still worked. That was the first time I used riding as a means to heal, to find strength and hope.
I have since been diagnosed with a second invasive melanoma, but I continue to feel support and love from my community. This is why the Tour de Pier is something very, very special for me. It is significance; it is huge.
2015 was my first year riding at the Tour de Pier, and I was once again alongside Angela Bennett, riding up on the main stage. I was so moved by the energy and sheer number of people coming from all angles of the fight, riding with a purpose. This purpose saves lives. This purpose gives mothers like myself hope that we’ll be here to watch our kids grow. This purpose brings a community of people together – family members, friends, warriors themselves – riding together, fighting together, healing together.