Funds Raised: $10,095 (excluding pending matches, and the donation you can still make)
I am writing this from the shuttle bus on the way to work. I am back in reality.
Yesterday morning I packed my bags for the trip home, and rolled out to meet Chris in the parking lot. Chris and I talked about his research in stem cell manufacturing and its potential impact on cancer treatments as we rolled to John “The Vicar”’s church, where Pablove AcrossAmerica was featured in a lecture series that happens at 10, between their 9and 11am services. Jeff, Jo Ann, Charlie, Jessica, Megan, Ana Rose, Bryan, andPhil were all in attendance; everyone not in spandex. Phil walked in wearing asport coat and I honestly didn’t recognize him – embarrassingly, I introducedmyself to him before laughing and saying – oh, hey Phil.
Jeff gave an extremely compelling and heartfelt talk to the audience of about 150, and then we fielded questions. One question came from an older gentleman who, through an African accent, asked “As a father who lost my9 year old to brain cancer I want to ask you – how do you survive the grief?”Jeff isn’t often at a loss for words. What I read in his eyes was “I don’tknow.”
His thoughtful answer, when it came, had many folks in tears. The cut was so close – for Jo Ann, who shares Jeff’s loss; for Charlie and Jessica, who lost their daughter Tuesday to Neuroblastoma. The question was so hard coming from a man who had lost his son so long ago, longer than any of us have been in the fight, and still was trying to find that answer.
We should not survive our children. We should draw our last breaths secure in the belief that the future is guarded by the hands of our children; that the most important jobs we did in our lives was completed, andthe results secured until the next generation picks up the torch. The anguishof losing a child has gutted many of my friends – at their core, in their souls. The fear of it haunts my dreams.
I talked to the gentleman who’d asked the question later, and learned he was an oncologist; his loss was all the more painful because he was in the business of saving lives from cancer, but couldn’t save his own son.The outcome may have been different had his son been diagnosed this year – weare making steady improvements in outcomes, trickling in funding for basicscience, translational research and phase 1 trials with help from private foundations and frankly, from inspired pediatric oncologists who share data and outcomes for every patient.
We said our goodbyes, then Chris and I rolled down to Velo Pasadena, “ground zero” in some ways for Pablove – it was the shop Jeff and Pablo hung at before Pablo got sick, and the home shop for many of the LAriders. The place is amazing – high end bikes and components for sale, and anamazing collection on display. We looked around, caught Hrach’s eye, and had a quick chat before it was time to run to the airport. Hrach is a great, great guy, making people around him better cyclists (and better people). On the wayout of the door, he gave me a Velo cap I’ll wear with pride.
Chris and I drove down to LAX and went to the Proud Bird for brunch. A heck of a place, and it was good to catch up. After lunch he dropped me off at LAX, where I checked in, got through security, then grabbed a tableat the sports bar by my gate to watch the Seahawks work WAY to hard to takedown the Titans. No more Teflon on the gloves please, boys. After an uneventful flight home, I was back in the arms of my family and my community – back to reality.
This was a great adventure, and it was spent in the pursuit of things I believe in – service, hope, self improvement, self discovery, friendship. It would not have been possible but for the support of our soigneurs, mechanics, managers, and Pablove founders Jeff and Jo Ann. It wouldnot have been meaningful but for the participation of my 35 fellow riders. And it would not have mattered but for those who supported the ride, and made it possible to give the research grants that have and will continue to advance knowledge and treatment protocols.
This ride is over, but the road still beckons, and the fight isn’t done. Let’s go ride bikes!