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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
[Photos provided by Karen Lawson and Nicole Taylor]
Team Sakura Members:
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.
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.
I learned the hard way that the financial implications of cancer extend well beyond just the cost of medical care. It’s a far too frequent story where jobs are lost, or the hours worked drop below the minimum to maintain health insurance – or pay the rent.
The cost of babysitters alone could bankrupt a family, and then there’s all those extra meals eaten out, and meal delivery services on speed dial, because mama just didn’t have the strength to prepare dinner. Again.
And don’t even ask about the condition of the house. At a time when cleanliness is more important than ever, the strength to tackle that job is tied up in continuing the cycle of breath entering and exiting the body in a timely manner. It’s really hard to scrub toilets while you’re going through chemo.
Paying it forward
Debbie Cantwell was blessed with a strong support system while she was going through her own breast cancer battle, so she decided to pay it forward. From her kitchen table, and armed with determination and inspiration, Debbie started a non-profit organization, the Pink Daisy Project, to help other young women with breast cancer who were struggling and didn’t have the same kind of strong support system to call on.
This is a very small scale non-profit, and the grants to these young women with breast cancer are quite small as well, a few hundred dollars in gift cards or services. Just enough to turn the tide a bit, to get the momentum going again, a lift, a kindness, hope.
How the Pink Daisy Project helped me
The help I received from the Pink Daisy Project while I was going through treatment did all those things for me. I could buy diapers for my baby, and put gas in the car, but it did something more than that, too. By lifting one of my burdens, the gift lifted my spirits. I felt less weighed down. It put a little bit of bounce in my step, my energy level actually improved. Kindness has huge implications in the world.
Every once in a while, I take advantage of the fact that my blog has an audience to tell people about the good work that the Pink Daisy Project is doing. I want to shout it from the rooftops.
But, at a moment like this, more importantly, I want people to consider giving. Financially, times are tough for most of us right now, and that translates into fewer and smaller donations than usual. Of course, the need remains, and applications for assistance keep coming in.
I think its important to note that the money is not just sent out to just anyone. There is an application process, and the stories are vetted. These are amazing, resilient women, who found the strength to ask for help when it became necessary. These are women who take care of others, but at this moment, need some care taking from others. Here is another family that the Pink Daisy Project helped.
This is Shelly and her son:
My name is Shelly and I’m a young breast cancer survivor.
During treatments and surgeries my marriage fell apart, I was unable to work and had another surgery in a week when me and my son had to leave an abusive life. I was terrified!
School was getting ready to start and I couldn’t even get pencils for my son.
Pink Daisy stepped into my life at that point, I received gift cards for Kroger , with those I was able to get all the supplies my son needed! I was also given food cards that helped us to have what little money I had go towards getting utilities turned on and food in our stomachs.
I cried with relief to be able to do these things, my son had already been thru so much, watching me go thru everything with treatments, and lost his world when we had to leave. And PDP helped me help my son thru the most difficult time we ever faced.
Me and my son have plans to help pay this gift forward so other families in same positions can get the help and lifeline Pink Daisy gives! We thank Pink Daisy and all the supporters of this wonderful group with all our hearts!
Please consider giving, or at least sharing this story.
Cancer didn’t make me stronger; it sapped my strength like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
You know what made me stronger? Having to make tough decisions and stand by them. Calling bullshit on bullshit. Moving forward despite the fear. Getting up every single day to be a mommy to my little girl, no matter how crappy I felt. Showing up for every treatment, even when I wanted to hide under the covers. Being a part of a support network for other young women with breast cancer.
We don’t get through this alone; we are all so interconnected. There is strength in numbers, in solidarity, in community. We take turns having bad days, and on our better days we lend our strength to others. There is strength in knowing I am not alone. Others have traveled the road before me, and my experience will provide strength to those who come behind me.
There is strength in helping others, in standing up and fighting for a cause. There is strength in giving back, and paying it forward. There is strength in understanding, and being understood. And there is a great deal of strength in our collective knowledge of how to survive and thrive despite this nasty and devastating disease.
This is why I am so passionately supportive of my support network for young women with breast cancer, the Young Survival Coalition.
A week ago, YSC Seattle held it’s annual fundraising event. Instead of the usual party and auction, this year we held an athletic event. Tour de Pink indoor was our first cycling fundraiser, and it had a completely different kind of energy than the party. We packed the room with spin cycles, great music, and awesome people. Perhaps it wasn’t the same fun as partying, but there was collective energy of focus and determination that was quite different from what happens on the dance floor.
Energy builds on energy, focus encourages focus, and it’s hard to give up in a room packed with that much determination.
We raised $11,000.
Up next is a bigger, outdoor ride. Tour de Pink West Coast is a 200 mile ride from Thousand Oaks to Foothill Ranch, CA, to benefit YSC across the nation, and it’s less than two weeks away. I won’t be riding along, but I will be with them in spirit, you can, too.
I was selected for this campaign by Clever Girls Collective. This post is sponsored by Members Unite.
“The doggie makes him feel better?”
“That’s right, they give doggies to soldiers who are hurt, and the doggies help them to get stronger, be happy, and feel loved.”
“I like that.”
Gem has her hand in most of my blog posts in one way or another. When I was hired to review the Members Unite program, where users vote on a collectively funded project each month, I pulled her right up beside me to help out with the review.
Each month, nine philanthropic projects are highlighted. Members read up on the details, and vote on which project their membership dollars, in our case $5 a month, would fund.
Gem and I did not agree on many of these projects. She was much more taken with the projects that focused on making people happy (not surprising for a two-year-old), while I was more interested in the projects that help with nutrition and education. But we both easily agreed on the dogs for wounded veterans.
I love the fact that these little projects are funding something specific: 30 front doors for habitat for humanity, or tutors for 30 homeless children for one year, or planting 5,000 trees in Brazil, just to name a few. This takes giving to a different level, and helps me feel more involved in what my donation is doing. My measly $5 is not getting lost in a giant fund to be used for whatever, it is to go to this specific project. There’s a shift that takes place in my brain around that. I don’t have a lot of money to give, but I can give $5, and in this case, I know what the $5 will go towards, and I know it will make a difference.
I’m going to keep watching this program, to see how it plays out for a couple months, and how the voting process proceeds, but so far I’m impressed. Each week more information will be provided about the projects that survive the previous weeks cut. So as you go along through the month, you learn more, and become more involved with the projects for which you are voting.
“One person giving $20 is a drop in the ocean. One thousand people giving $20 brings clean water to a village for a lifetime”
Additionally, I love the fact that this project brings to my attention 9 different projects that amazing people are working on each month. That’s a lot of awesome to introduce into our lives. It’s good to see other people do good. It’s good to get exposure to a wide array of possibilities. It’s good to have this kind of inspiration for our own future projects. And it’s good to have a chance to deal in to these projects, even on the $5 level. I want my daughter to see that her opportunities for making a difference in the world are limitless. She will be joining me in voting on Members Unite projects each month.
For more information: The site includes a useful FAQ that outlines the transparency of their financials, the vetting process for projects, membership information (yes you can cancel with 30 days notice, no long term commitment required) and a number of other relevant and useful pieces of information. It’s well worth the read.
UPDATE: For a limited time, Members Unite is offering my community a 50% off discount on the annual membership fee of $25! Use code “WELOVEMOMS” when you sign up!
Well, for starters, you end up with some fun pictures…
But more importantly, this event raised money for some pretty awesome organizations.
Get Hitched Give Hope brings together wedding related vendors from around the region, allowing the wedding party to meet the vendors, bid on wedding products and services, and plan their weddings while raising money for a great cause.
Food, wine, flowers, rhinestones, and feathers…
Vendors were there to show off the best of what they have to offer
And the Young Survival Coalition (an organization which has been of immense help to me in my cancer battle) was one of the beneficiaries, along with The Dream Foundation, which grants wishes to adults in the last year of their battle with life threatening diseases.
Such an amazing event. And thanks to all these events in October, we’ve got a good jump on hitting our budget for next year. But I’ve got to admit, I’m thankful that October is over; I’m exhausted, and ready for a two week nap.
Also, I think I’m going to try to get one of those photo booths for all my events in the future. That was fun!