Day 12: Meaningful Rest and Exploration of Cleveland

To start off with, I wanted to let everyone know that I added more information to the blog for day 7 in regards to visiting the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge and Gylda’s Club, so definitely check that out because they were amazing hosts!

Today was a beautiful day. Like our very first day in New York City, this was an event day. This day was well deserved after our 10 consecutive days of riding, or so I would think. It started off pretty casual with a later wake up at 8 AM….amazing. After that, we were able to eat some cereal provided by our amazing stayover, and some of us walked to a nearby coffee shop to indulge just a little bit. I have honestly been pretty impressed that a group of almost 30 college students has made it so many days with a 5:55 AM wake up without coffee!

Afterwards, we were shuttled by members of our stayover’s congregation to the University Hospital’s Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland. While we were visiting, we got to spend time with some of the folks that run the center from an operational standpoint. We got to tour treatment bays, where patients can receive chemotherapy. This was not something that many of the students in Illini 4000 had not seen. During my tour, we were told about how the space was designed to really feel open and comfortable for the patients. And they really did think of everything, from easily moveable walls for added privacy between patients, to the window view for all, seats for caregivers and heated seats for patients that often feel chilled during treatment. There was artwork around the facility as well. Additionally, patients can receive art and/or music therapy. We got to see where longer term patients stay and the amenities provided that are comfortable for both patient and caregiver. This facility really did seem to put a huge emphasis on the patient’s experience.

Additionally we got to see other areas, including radiology, which though typically housed in the basement of buildings, was on the second floor. We met a doctor who showed use around, explaining the different uses for a PET scan, CAT scan and MRI. One really cool program that they told us about was that for $99, a patient who is between a certain age range who smoked for 15 years or more, could come into the hospital and be scanned. What this program could do is potentially detect a cancerous tumor before the patient experiences symptoms, which can really be life saving. If a cancerous tumor is detected, they can remove it and you can be cancer free without symptoms. This really led to a discussion of the different types of ways to be proactive about cancer detection and prevention. One of the biggest things to know is your family history, this can often dictate what age and how often you can checked for certain cancers. If you have any questions, this would definitely be a great conversation to have with your parents and/or doctor!

Next we visited the Rainbow Hospital,the children’s hospital associated with the University Hospital. It was an exciting day for the hospital as it was Leonard Horvitz’s birthday, a large donor to the facility, who initiated that on his birthday they have a huge birthday party in the hospital. There were balloons and a DJ and gifts for patients- it did look like a great celebration. We proceeded upstairs where we visited part of the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute. We had the opportunity to speak with the father and sister of Angie a Fowler, who had passed away at a young age from cancer. The institute created in her namesake was a wonderful tribute. Some important things to know is that, although this is a children’s hospital, patients even in their 30′s can be seen, especially if they have a cancer more often seen in children/teenagers, which means that the cancer institute needs to be able to provide for the very different needs of this patient age range. There are spaces with fun painted walls and toys, whereas other spaces are geared towards older patients who may need computer access to keep up with work or school, or just spaces to meet with friends and family that do not feel like a hospital. We visited the rooftop, called Angie’s Garden, which was just a beautiful place to enjoy the open air and relaxation of the beautifully created surroundings. We were so thankful that we were provided a wonderful lunch provided by the University Hospital which gave us the wonderful tour and information.

After that, the day was ours. Some of us went to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while others went to an art museum, or a bike shop, while others returned to the mission to do laundry or rest. It was a beautiful day and many of us had the opportunity to perform some general maintenance on our bikes. Be sure to ask any rider you know what their bike’s name is! Many have names…and mine was just given a name the other day: Firestorm (because of it’s color).

Again we are just so thankful to our hosts at the United Methodist Mission here in Cleveland who provided us with a taste of Cleveland themed dinner tonight. It was amazing, consisting of pirogies, potato pancakes, chili, sausage/sauerkraut, salad and just a great dessert of ice cream cups and blueberries/strawberries/pound cake/cool whip mixture, many of us left dinner almost uncomfortably full, but very happy. We could not have asked for more wonderful hosts and are specially thankful for the food and gift bags they gave us. Thank you! We really are not exaggerating when we say that we could not do this without the generosity of those who we encounter.

We also just want to give a shoutout to those at the hospital who shared their stories with our team for the Portraits Project ( It has been such an exciting trip for portraits- which is one of the main purposes behind the ride.

So with that, tomorrow bright and early we get moving again! Here’s hoping for a smooth ride!

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