Almost to Chicago

Today, we made our way to Homewood, Illinois. We met Robert Bertram at our first rest stop in Arouma Park, Il. He is a family member of two cancer victims. Robert works as a home visit physical therapist, and he has several cancer patients as clients. When he was eighteen, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and later died of bone cancer and his brother died of liver cancer. He explained how his mother’s passing affected his family and how he supported his younger sister, who was only eight at the time. Robert found that his faith played a large part in his coping methods. As someone who has seen several people become diagnosed with the illness, he had several pieces of advice for us. “If you got cancer, deal with it, and if you’re a family member, support them in any way you can. They’ll be days that they’ll be so miserable that they’re gonna want to die. You just gotta be there to support them. Do whatever it takes. Put them before you. And live everyday like it’s your last, and do the best you can. Treat people right, and hopefully you’ll get it back.”

The ride was just 54 miles, but a headwind gave our riders some trouble. To refuel, we enjoyed an awesome BBQ at the home of a former rider, Lindsey Rock. Her family was all too generous in making us burgers and potato salad accompanied by tons of homegrown veggies and fruits. As most of the riders were tired from struggling during the first half against the winds, we also took short naps in their sunny backyard. After such a great rest stop, we were all more than ready to tackle the rest of the ride.

While enjoying the delicious lunch, are team met Lindsey’s friend, Kellie Alexa. Kellie’s mother was diagnosed with leukemia while Kellie was in 7th grade. Her cancer was treated and given a slim chance of returning. Two days before the start of Kellie’s freshman year, her mother’s cancer returned and she died a few months later. Kellie explained that she didn’t take it seriously at first, and then when it came back, she didn’t know what to think. “I ignored it. I completely ignored it. I said, ‘I’m fine, nothing happened.’ I probably ignored it for the first month or so, and then I would come home after a while and realize that it was real, and that was really hard. But I still played volleyball. I just wanted to be with my friends because the more people you are around, the less real it is.” Kellie explained how important her friends were as her support. “I told my friends, and they knew about it. They would go with me to the hospital to see my mom. They were all really supportive. They didn’t really know how to talk to me about it, but I could tell that they would struggle and I would tell them, ‘Guys it doesn’t affect me.’ But you have to talk about it to get through it. It’s not something you can keep hidden inside of you because it will never go away if you hide it from yourself.  I had so many friend’s moms always there. Even when Lindsey was in college, I would go to her house and say, ‘Mrs. Rock, listen to me whine. Mrs. Rock, listen to me cry. Mrs. Rock, feed me.’ There was always someone’s mom there to help you, because that’s what moms do. You don’t have to just be a mom to your own kid. If you’re a mom, you’re a mom. You help everyone. It’s what all of my friend’s mom have done.”

As a final thought, Kellie gave us some great advice. “If something bad happens to you, you can’t just dwell on it forever. You can’t be sad; you can’t say, ‘This happened to me, now I’m gonna be sad for the rest of my life. I’m not going to try hard to be good,’ because it’s not going to do anything. You should try to be the most positive and outgoing person you can be for the rest of your life and make people happy, even when you’re not. It’s a sort of gift, because you can see what other people cannot. If someone else is upset, you need to make them happy. I remember people on my basketball team being all, ‘Oh no, I didn’t make a shot. I’m going to go to the locker room and cry.’ So I would try to go in there and be loud and obnoxious and poke them and be all, ‘Hey, hey, why are you so upset?’ and make them smile just because I knew that not making a shot is not the worst thing that can happen to you.”

Once we got to the stay over, some of us took showers at the local pool, thanks to the generosity of the our hosts who were willing to drive us there. By the time each group had completed the ride and taken their showers, dinner was ready. Today’s meal was… tacos! We have been so fortunate that our stay overs cook us such great food each night. After dinner, the team had a meeting to discuss the logistics of our arrival into Chicago. We are very excited to reach another major city, as well as to see our friends and family members who may live around the area. For those of you reading, please feel free to come great us tomorrow at The Bean at noon. Thanks for reading, and we appreciate all your support!

A special thanks to Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Rock family for their generosity.

 

 

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