Yesterday was one of the most beautiful days of my bike tour. The views cycling Big Savage Mountain are just wonderous with every bend in the trail. At the top of the climb, you are greeted by a spectacular view of the Narrows below into Cumberland.
The climb up Big Savage is a challenge, maybe not the biggest, but it is a challenge. With every stroke of the pedal, you move forward. At the top comes the reward for meeting the challenge, the thrill of accomplishment.
October 12 is etched into my memory. I suffered a heart attack on this day in 2005. Seventeen days later I left the hospital weak and battered. Things could have gone otherwise during that hospital stay and three surgeries, but they didn’t. I was given a new lease on life. I have never forgotten that time, and how I was handed a second chance.
I made it a goal to spotlight an interesting person I met on the trail every day. When you cycle with saddlebags covered with signs promoting a cancer charity ride, people naturally approach you to talk. It became obvious that I was not the only person given a second lease on life. It was common for people to share their story of overcoming a life-threatening challenge and moving on.
This is a week of many stories of cancer challenges, survivals, and victories. It has made me more aware of how much cancer touches many lives. Many lives have been lost. Many lives have been saved. Even more evident, the challenges of cancer transforms people for the rest of their lives.
I am uncomfortable writing about cancer. I personally cannot fathom the devastating reality and consequences of this disease. Any challenge that I’ve experienced in my life is certainly nowhere near the magnitude of challenges cancer patients and their families face.
What I do know is that challenges are in front of us every day of our life. What we make of those challenges is under our personal control. I just ask that next time you face one of those insurmountable challenges that you think about how you can turn it into something that leads you to live the good life.
So it is that life is good. When you come out of the pain and tragedy of a possibly terminal and devastating disease, you are a changed person. I can’t speak for everyone I met along this ride that was impacted by cancer, I can say that each of them has had their life transformed. The task for all of us is to harness these transformations and move on to the good life.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at a time of challenge and controversy.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.