Team Sakura and the Tour de Pink

How would you get back at breast cancer?

Last year Barb Greenlee got back at cancer by riding 200+ miles on her bicycle in the West Coast Tour de Pink to raise funds for the Young Survival Coalition.

This year, she’s doing it twice.

Not only is Barb riding in the West Coast Tour de Pink, but in September she completed the East Coast Tour de Pink, and earlier this year her gorgeous cherry blossom design was selected by Liv/Giant for their official Tour de Pink bicycle.TDP logo

Barb isn’t alone in this, and that is one of the reasons that the Young Survival Coalition (YSC) exists. Cancer can be very lonely, and much of the the breast cancer outreach is oriented towards senior citizens, and does not address the issues faced by young women, such as dating after a mastectomy, fertility, building a career while battling cancer, a cancer diagnosis during pregnancy or while breast feeding, and too many other issues to list here. YSC is there to help make sure no young woman has to go through breast cancer alone.

Barb is not alone on the ride either; she has a team pedaling along with her. Team Sakura is named for the Japanese word for the cherry blossom. These delicate blooms have taken on a special meaning for the members of our YSC group in Seattle. The blooms light up our spring, and they signify the temporary nature of life, as well as it’s delicate beauty. And they remind us to embrace each moment, to live fully, throwing everything we’ve got at life.

And so they ride. They ride to get back at cancer, they ride to support each other, and they ride because they can.

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Last year’s Tour de Pink was the first for Karen Lawson as well. Neither Barb nor Karen thought of themselves as athletes. Karen said, “I thought it seemed beyond my wildest dreams.  I could barely walk during treatment and physical exercise afterwards seemed like a million miles away from what I could manage.”

Barb and Karen trained together, along with their partners, Brent and Sebastian. The training can be difficult, often extending over a hundred miles each week. But completing the ride was a fulfilling experience:

“I’m awed by the support and love from all the other riders and volunteers.  They are so dedicated.  And then I’m so awed by the survivors riding.  Really taking back their lives and doing something so hard with such grace.  The ride is really tough, but it also feels really safe because there is so much support.  It was a great achievement and made me feel really powerful.  I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone but myself and I’m proud that I did that.”

~Karen Lawson

This year they’ve got a much bigger team, that means more support, and more fun and antics as they prepare. Training is still intense, but they always travel at the speed of the slowest rider. It’s not a race, and no one gets left behind.

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Sheila Cain is new to the Tour de Pink this year. She was surprised at the commitment involved in training. In the beginning she thought hour long rides were time consuming, but now six hour training runs are frequent. The sacrifice and the challenge of the Tour de Pink is not just the 200 miles one weekend each fall, it’s also the months of training that make that ride possible.

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[Photos provided by Karen Lawson and Nicole Taylor]

Team Sakura Members:

  • Barb Greenlee
  • Karen Lawson
  • Brent Felt
  • Sebastian Wright
  • Sarah Cruz
  • Sheila Cain
  • Tammie Turpen
  • Erin Johnson
  • Nicole Taylor*
  • Carl Taylor*                              *training only

These amazing people have done so much. They’ve endured the cut, poison, and burn that is cancer treatment – or they’ve been there for their partners through it. They’ve put in the blood and sweat to train for this event. The members of this team have logged countless hours volunteering for YSC in other capacities as well. And now, they are ten days away from the start of this epic ride.

They have a team page, and they have a team fundraising obligation of $25,000, and they are almost there. But not quite. As of today, they are about $1,500 short.

I’ve talked about YSC ad nauseum on this blog – but only because I am so passionate about this organization. The doctors saved my life, but it was YSC that saved me, my sanity, my spirit, my sense of self. I had wonderful friends and family members who were so helpful during treatment, but they didn’t comprehend what I was going through. The women at YSC did, and they helped me pull myself through.

UPDATE:

I wrote this post last year, but Team Sakura rides again this year! Here’s a link to their 2014 fundraising page, in case you’re inclined to support these amazing women, and this organization that helps so many women living with cancer.

Team Sakura 2014

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