VeloSano's signature fundraiser, Bike to Cure, is fast approaching. Every year I'm amazed and grateful for everyone who participates in this weekend-long event. The support, passion and energy is contagious, and helps us to continue to advance cancer research to the next level.
As an oncologist, I understand how cancer can ravage the lives of patients and their families, physically and emotionally. Every day, the need for a cure intensifies.
And, I'll admit, some days are tougher than others.
It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since a patient of mine tweeted a photo of herself standing tall in front of the Taussig Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic. Her broad, confident smile is matched by the beautiful, bright sunny day. Her bike is parked behind her and she is wearing her VeloSano jersey, but I can see that her left arm is wrapped in a lymphedema sleeve as part of her cancer treatment. Her tweet says, "Thank you Cleveland Clinic and @Jamecancerdoc for all the care and effort you put into your patients to find a cure!!"
In this photo she is barely 40 years old, mother to a 12-year-old daughter who wants to be a doctor, and a 9-year-old son who dreams of playing professional football.
A few months after this photo was taken, she was admitted for the third time with complications from metastatic breast cancer. I visited her bedside and she asked me, with tears streaming down her cheeks, "How do I know when to stop? ..." She held my hands tightly. After a long pause, I told her I would help her. We sat quietly and talked about her journey, her kids and her husband. We laughed with teary eyes. She was worried about them more than herself. She hugged me and thanked me.
She died 24 hours later.
Afterwards, her husband asked me, "Do me a favor, doc... find a cure for cancer."
Days like that are extremely difficult. But as caregivers, we must remember that we are here for a higher purpose - our goal is to lessen the pain and suffering from this horrible disease, and keep working to find a cure for cancer.
That's why I ask you to join me in participating in Bike to Cure on September 9-10. 1OO% of dollars raised supports lifesaving cancer research at Cleveland Clinic. Your participation provides our researchers with the crucial funds needed to continue the fight.