When It All Comes Together

Why do bad things happen?  Why does human life have to be so fragile?  Sometimes the bad news in life can be so disheartening.  And it’s in times of grief and loss that we have to remember the victories too.  Yesterday I rode for my mom’s coworker and friend, who is a survivor of ovarian cancer.  I also found out towards the end of the ride that a classmate I knew from high school died in a drunk driving accident.  As I found out the awful news, all I could do was simply carry on riding my bicycle.  I prayed for the family and friends affected by the deaths of these young people, and spent some time processing the loss, considering all that they had meant to various people in my life.  In this short time on earth, we all have limited opportunities to impact others, and Mihir brought joy and fun to the lives of many.

Whenever I fall into the mindset that I’m just on this trip to have fun, something pulls me back to reestablish the necessary perspective.  For instance, we normally have an “event day” once a week, but don’t really do anything but rest and hang out.  I am incredibly grateful to Ryan for coordinating a real event day with the Saint Alphonsus Hospital.  We toured around the hospital, meeting patients and doctors.  More details can be seen on the team blog for Day 54, which has so many medical details in it because I took notes at the hospital and was really interested by all the equipment used.

The time at the hospital was an emotional one for me, particularly the infusion (chemo) room.  While my mom was receiving treatment (poisonous drugs) for her cancer, I was in school.  I felt that I could never be there for her, but rather far away in Champaign-Urbana.  It was a trying time for our family.  My mom was strong, and she would tell me how she was doing from afar… germs cannot be spread through a phone call.  My dad always brought her to chemo at Northwestern Hospital.  She described the room to me: a nice view, and a comfortable chair, but she had suite mates, and they were often the same people each of the 6 times she went in.  Seeing Saint Alphonsus’ room was an actual picture of the verbal picture my mom had painted earlier.  I think it’s a very hard place to be, to come in and receive the drugs which make patients so sick.  All this I thought, despite the positive atmosphere throughout the hospital.

I realized at that point that cancer is multifaceted emotionally and physically.  At the hospital, we met an incredible variety of caregivers: infusion and radiation nurses, physicians, oncologists, nutritionists, social workers, pharmacists, and many more.  People need each other in cancer times more than other times in life.  And cancer is a charged word.  To some people cancer brings back memories of fear and pain; for others it means conquering an enemy.  For such a dynamic grouping of diseases, there are millions of people in the world who strive to make a difference by helping these people.  A number of the professions I learned about at the hospital sounded interesting to me, and I have begun to doubt my absolute confidence in my career goals.  It’s good to keep my options open.  I know that no matter what I do, God will give me the opportunity to help others.

Finally, a few comments on the state of the ride:
- I am SO pleased to be back in mountains and forest… if I haven’t made that clear enough through the team blog.
- I have a new chain and cassette (the gears in the back), and I got them for free through Trek Care Plus!
- My left arm is having shooting pains from my wrist, through my elbow and up to my shoulder.  Not sure why; just dealing with it using a wrist brace for now.
- I love cycling, but home is starting to sound like a good idea!

Oregon is a great state! :)

Comments (4)
  • dan thuente says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a friend at such a young age is just wrong. That isn’t how life is supposed to go. But as you have learned, and, continue to teach us, life is definitely not fair. Bad things happen to good people. To come out & find the good in that is amazing. Balancing celebrating the people who beat cancer while remembering those who lost the battle is difficult. They say either you see the glass as half full or half empty, unless you are an engineer, & then you just think the glass was too big to begin with. So glad you let your engineer mind behind (for a short time) & always see the glass half full.
    On a personal note, glad you are in the mountains, your joy does shine through, yeah for Trek Care plus, hope your arm gets better & look forward to having you home.
    Keep up the great work!!

  • John Knicker says:

    Very intense and thoughtful post – thanks to all of you for continuously pointing out the important stuff to all of us who are sitting on our butts (in a decent chair, not a bike seat). Go I4K team !!! (TEAM being the key to almost all human success, including dealing with loss).

    Oh, BTW, anybody notice the little sign on that sign behind the kooky characters in the picture? (Humor is also a great survival tool).

  • aknicker Alex Knicker says:

    Great post Grace…glad you mentioned the hospital we went to

  • Jared gorham says:

    I met you today in LA pine Oregon. It amazes me to see that people can accomplish the long journey across America on two wheels. It also makes me happy to see that you can care so much about your cause it takes a driven person to accomplish that type of trip, my grandfather was taken by cancer and I can not believe the things your group endures for the sake of him and all cancer patients. Thankyou for all you are doing. I wish I could have had more time to conversate, good luck to you all have a great rest of your trip.

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