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Riding on progress (6 days till “The Ride”)

June 17, 2012

   With less than a week to go until The Ride, I couldn’t be more prepared. I’ve taken on a bike path without knocking over other cyclists. I’ve viewed the Ride route by vehicle and become somewhat comfortable with having to traverse the pavement of a busy stretch of Sweet Home Road in Amherst, crossing over the entrance and exit ramps to the 990. I’ve transformed from the novice who almost ran Patrick over during Stick it to Cancer to a somewhat graceful rider who can catch up to him when he least expects it.

   I’m getting excited, but more prep work is in order during this final week. The bikes have to be re-inspected to make sure everything is in working order – mine especially, since I’ve crashed, thrown and flipped it a few times over the past eight weeks. While we hear that the Ride has the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at rest stop, we still want to gather up a few snacks of our own and plenty of water bottles, just in case that rest stop feels like it will never come. We also have to convince Billy that while we are calling the event a race to make it easier to say, he must stay with our little team and not try to run others off the road. An experienced rider since age 5, he will likely be bored with our slow pace, and at 14, he won’t see the value of the quality, family time anytime soon.

   We enjoyed one final ride tonight, after a party at my sister, Mary’s home for Father’s Day/a niece’s birthday. With temperatures in the 80s and a humidity that felt like it matched, I was not really in the mood to ride, especially with my leg swelling due to the weather. At times, the calf is solid, and it feels as though I’ve attached a 10-pound weight to my ankle. This is a sure sign that summer wants to arrive.

   With the leg expanding and the compression stocking becoming harder to yank on and peel off, I often find myself in disbelief that this is a permanent thing. Despite the wonderful physical therapists at Roswell Park assuring me that surgery isn’t a viable option, I find myself every once in a while doing online searches for “cancer lymphedema surgery.” Yet no matter where I’ve looked – the National Cancer Institute, the National Lymphedema Network, the Mayo Clinic and countless patient blogs – the advice is the same: Surgery does more harm than good unless the swelling is so bad that a limb is immobile. (My journalistic training forces me to seek out two or more sources before I’ll truly believe anything).

   All these sources also are in agreement with the program to which I was introduced at Roswell Park’s Lymphedema Clinic. Manual lymphatic drainage. Compression bandages. Compression stockings. Live with it.

   And that’s what I’m doing, I’m slowly realizing.


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