Why We Ride

So first off I’d like to apologize to any of those who actually read my blogs. During our stay in Rochester, I was writing out this actual blog when out of nowhere my computer completely broke. I tried doing many things to it but to no avail. Since I will have to renew my warranty to get it fixed, I will be at the will of others generosity for the remainder of the trip to get blogging done. So therefore I will try to squeeze as much as I can in while resting in Rapid City, SD.

First off, and most importantly, I would like to tell of the events that occurred at the Mayo Clinic of Rochester, Minnesota. For those that don’t know, the Mayo Clinic is the largest and one of the highest ranked hospitals in the United States and one of the largest in the world. It is so large in fact, that its three hospitals make up the primary industry of the big city and that people from all over the world come for the state of the art treatment. An example of this dedication to being the cream of the crop is their Center for Innovation in which we toured and ate lunch. This center is unique in that it is housed completely in the clinic but is dedicated to one thing, improving the way the hospital is run. This means worrying about both patient, providers, and staff. It was interesting to see how every little detail was taken into account and even with it being a new department, it was evident that progress was to be made.

The most eye opening experience of the trip for me also took place in the Mayo Clinic. We visited this wonderful place called the Hope Lodge where those who come from a long way away are able to stay while receiving treatments. After a tour, we were told to sit in the kitchen and wait to talk with current patients and their families. After a few nervous minutes, the people came and hearing their stories would change both how I view the ride and my life forever.

The first gentleman I spoke with was from Naperville, Illinois so we shared an instant connection living near the city of Chicago. He had an inflamed polyp in his nose and went into the doctor and found out it was a malignant tumor. Luckily for him, he found it early enough that after surgery and the current radiation treatment he was on, doctors seemed hopeful that it was gone for good. The surgery he described however was the most interesting part. It took two teams of surgeons eleven hours to cut open his face in two separate faces and remove a piece of his skull in order to take out the tumor. And the most amazing part is that I couldn’t even tell that he had any surgery! Wherever he is now, I am sure his positive and jovial attitude is going to be able to get him through any situation life throws at him.

Cancer stories can often be those of triumph, but so many times they are the story of turmoil and tragedy. The second group I talked to was a mother daughter pair from North Dakota. The husband/father had been at the Mayo Clinic since April and the outcome was not looking good. What stuck out at me the most is just the emotional and mental strain that going through something like that brought upon the family, especially the mother. She had been by his side since the day he was admitted and was exhausted. She told me that one of the hardest parts is being the one to schedule all the appointments since her husband had been in and out of intensive care. This particular battle with cancer was a long siege which has taken all involved to their limits. My thoughts and prayers go out to this family as this journey nears its end.

This experience was a true eye opener and showed two completely opposite sides that the dreaded C-word can bring. In my experiences so far I have put together a few things I have learned about cancer. Here they are:

-First and foremost, don’t put yourself in harms way. This means don’t smoke, don’t drink excessively, eat healthy, etc.

-Every second counts. The earlier you catch cancer, your survival chances improve exponentially. If anything is out of whack in your body get it checked out and if you’re not satisfied with the answer, get a second opinion. If you don’t get better, get more help.

-Don’t let finances get in your way of getting better. Yes getting sick is expensive, but there is nothing in the world more valuable than your life. There are so many different ways to get your treatment covered. Look for them and find them.

-Sign up for clinical trials as soon as you can. Not only could this increase your chances of recovery, but it also helps make progress in the ultimate fight against cancer. The future will thank you.

-Admit that you’re only human. When dealing with something like cancer you need to realize that you cannot do it on your own. Create a support system. Who knows? You may become closer than ever to people who you previously shut out.

This is an ongoing list and again I am sorry for not being able to post in so long.

I felt the need to finish this particular blog because I think it will prove to be my most important experience to document on this trip.

This is why we ride.

Comments (4)
  • Cathy says:

    Good to hear from you again Sean. Sorry your computer broke. Sounds like the Mayo Clinic was a really amazing experience for you… Keep us posted on the rest of your journeys!

  • dpatel Disha Patel says:

    im glad you enjoyed rochester! mayo clinic and hope lodge were definitely one of my favorite memories of the trip last summer!

  • Nancy Replogle says:

    I’ve read all of the Illini 4000 blogs about Mayo Clinic and each of you had different, yet similar experiences while interacting with cancer patients and their families. It is amazing how these encounters can change your views and leave a lasting impression. The things you learned about cancer and prevention will help all of us. Thanks for sharing. Early detection is so important. Enjoy your ride through Wyoming.

  • Diane Madison says:

    Way to go Sean–I like the part about thinking about choices–especially not drinking!!! Not as much as I love and admire you!!!
    Love, Mom

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