(NOTE: This is a repost/update of a diary I put up late at night. Hopefully it will get more attention in the light of a beautiful day.)
This simple Tweet showing up on my feed signaled the end of a long fight:
@fatcyclist Susan died 7:25pm. Her battle with cancer is over. Mine just got more intense. FIGHT LIKE SUSAN.
8:03 PM Aug 5th from Twitterrific
He calls himself "fatcyclist". Read his blog www.fatcyclist.com, where he writes much more about riding than about his late wife Susan. Like his recent post with a video of "Joy", an aptly named local trail.
Elden has a huge soul. Following Susan's fight with cancer over the last few years on his blog makes that very clear. His last post, Don't Say She Lost, makes it clear that his fight will continue.
Read some of her story and a plea for cancer research funding over the hump, with the Team Fatcyclist raffle for sweet new Orbea road bike. Let's jump the shark of cancer together, shall we?
(NOTE: This is a repost/update of a diary I put up late last night. Cancer will soon be the number one killer in the world, and Fatty is one of the top fundraisers for Livestrong, Lance Armstrong's cancer-fighting organization. This is an important subject, and deserves some more time in the spotlight. This is a reminder of the very real human side of health care. Keep up the good fight!)
Elden just put together a contest to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which had become one of the leading sponsors of cancer research.
As Tony Hawk, whose father died of cancer, put it in a show I saw last night: "Lance is the face of cancer research."
Elden somehow talked Shimano and Orbea into putting up a ~$10,000 bike as a raffle award. All it takes is a $5 contribution here to get in on it.
Do you have five bucks for every person close to you that has fought or died from cancer? Put it here.
This is the prize for helping in the cancer fight, a 2010 Orbea Orca or Diva (winner’s choice):
* Frame: Orbea Orca or Diva: The Orca is Orbea’s flagship bike, and the Diva is the women’s-specific variation on the Orca. Frankly, there just isn’t much I need to say about these bikes. Just look at them. They’re beautiful. But they’re not just vanity bikes. Oh no. If you’ve ever ridden an Orca, you want an Orca. They ride as sexy as they look. Which, I would like to point out, is very, very sexy.Truly sweet:
* Drivetrain: Dura-Ace Di2 Group: Back at Interbike last year, Shimano was showing off its not-yet-released Di2 electronic shifting group, called “Shimano Electronic Intelligent System” (SEIS). Until I saw it in action, I didn’t really get the “Intelligent” part, but the fact is, it’s incredibly cool. When you tap to shift in the back, the front derailleur senses and trims to make sure your chain’s still aligned. If the rear derailleur gets bumped, it adjusts back so it’s true to the cassette. And it shifts fast. This bike is just off-the-charts fast, light, and high-tech.
That is some honey of a ride.
But for the real honey of this story, let me share but a few excerpts from the last couple of years of Susan's life. Following Susan and Elden through this journey is alternately gut wrenching, heartbreaking, and life affirming. A few excerpts:
Most Awesome Cycling-Related Gift. Ever.
12.27.2006 | 10:20 am
The Leadville 100 race is all about tradition. One of the traditions every racer looks forward to is getting their sweatshirt at the awards ceremony, complete with their name and finishing time. After doing this race ten times, I of course had ten sweatshirts.
The thing is, though, I don’t wear sweatshirts. I’ve got a subcutaneous layer of fat that keeps me warm; a sweatshirt would be overkill.
So I gave my Mom all my LT100 sweatshirts, and asked her to make me a quilt out of them.
And for Christmas, after roughly 19 gazillion hours of work, she gave me the completed quilt. Check it out:
Here’s What’s Been Going On
04.24.2007 | 12:14 pm
I’ve mentioned a few times recently that I’ve got a crisis going on that makes it difficult for me to try to be funny. I didn’t want to talk about it until it turned out that our suspicions were wrong and I could laugh it off, or it turned out that we were right and we had to start taking next steps.
Turns out we were right. In a nutshell: my wife’s breast cancer has metastasized. It’s in her bones, her spine, her lungs, her lymph nodes.
Obviously, right now I need to put the bulk of my energy into helping her as we get started on the huge — and endless — array of treatment she’s got in front of her. Chemo, radiation, surgery. Rinse and repeat, pretty much forever.
Eventually, we’ll get businesslike about the work of living with cancer, and I’ll go back to being the goofball I usually am. Meanwhile, I’m going to ask some friends to cover for me here, comedy-wise. I’ll still be here, but my sense of humor and I are a long way from each other right now.
How Susan’s Doing
06.27.2007 | 10:57 am
I’ve been trying to keep this blog as non-mopey as possible lately, figuring that acting normal is a reasonable way to start feeling normal. Lots of you continue to send cards, email and comments, though, so I figure it’s time for an update on how things are going for Susan.
Susan’s on a three weeks on, one week off rotation for her chemo, which means that last Tuesday she didn’t have chemo. The chemo, in addition to making her tired, tends to give Susan an upset stomach, so this week off has meant that food is interesting to Susan for the first time in about a month.
Of course, yesterday was a chemo day again, so I’m guessing food is going to once again become a chore for her...
06.25.2008 | 5:49 pm
You know that when the doctor calls you back the same day they do the MRI, he’s not going to say something very happy.
Susan’s pubic bone is cracked. Her right hip socket (i.e., the one that she has not had surgery on yet) is on the verge of cracking.
Yes, that’s right. Susan’s been getting around with a cracked bone. Without pain medication and without complaint.
Susan’s threshold for “pain worth mentioning” is obviously a little different than yours and mine.
So. Tomorrow (Thursday) we go and see a radiation oncologist. Monday we go and see the surgeon who did her hip replacement. And hopefully we’ll cobble together a game plan.
Hey cancer, you’ve made your point. Now cut it out.
Cooler Than Yellow Wristbands
01.27.2009 | 6:18 pm
I’d like to kick today’s post off by saying that I am incredibly proud of Fat Cyclist readers. Together, we have — in under two months — raised $99,000 to help the Lance Armstrong Foundation fight cancer.
We’re going to be crossing into six-figure territory very, very soon now.
And I’d like to make it clear that the current big raffle — for a rare, high-end, not-for-sale-anywhere carbon fiber Gary Fisher Superfly Singlespeed mountain bike — is still underway. Click here for details on how, and then go here to donate for your raffle tickets. All proceeds go directly to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which I have can vouch for, firsthand.
The raffle for this bike ends this Saturday, so if you’re going to donate, you need to do it now.
How — And What — Susan’s Doing
I know perfectly well that a lot of you check in on my blog mostly to find out how Susan’s doing. (For those of you visiting for the first time, Susan has been fighting metastatic breast cancer for about two years. As of last October we’ve moved to hospice care.) And I haven’t said much about her in the past couple of weeks
The truth is, I haven’t talked about how Susan’s doing very often because it’s kind of a mixed bag, and because some days it’s a lot easier for me to write a jokey post than to go into details of our life.
Pain and Panic
A lot of the time, Susan does hurt. And while she doesn’t complain anywhere near as often as she ought to, she’s hurting worse, and in more places. And she’s weaker — I now do a lot more of the lifting than I used to when she moves from her bed to a chair.
What’s awful for me about this is the fact that I can’t do anything to fix the problem. The only thing I can do, really, is to offer Susan more pain medication. And so I do that.
If Susan took pain medication every time I offered it to her, she’d be comatose.
Sometimes — usually at night, after everyone else has gone to sleep and I have time to think — I start thinking about how much Susan’s going through, and how little I can do to help her, and I get this weird mix of panic and helplessness. I get terrified that there’s got to be something I could do for her, but I just don’t know what it is, and I’m failing her.
I’m not like that every night. Not even very often. And I’ve got Ambien for when I am.
You know, sometimes this blog isn’t very funny.
07.27.2009 | 9:20 am
Susan’s health is heading downhill pretty quickly now. She sleeps about 22 hours a day, waking mostly to ask for a little water to wet her mouth. The things she says sometimes make sense, but often they don’t. And a lot of the time, even when her eyes are open, she doesn’t respond to or look at me when I talk.
I know she doesn’t have long. I’ve known and expected this for years. But now that we’re getting close, I am afraid and overwhelmed and unprepared. Even for short-term things, there is so much I don’t know how to do.
School starts soon; the timing couldn’t be more awful. How do I make this easier for the kids? I haven’t chosen a mortuary or cemetery; I don’t know how and I don’t want to know how. I’m terrified of making calls and can’t stand the thought of comparison shopping. I hate being taken advantage of, but the thought of trying to be a savvy consumer right now makes me ill.
07.29.2009 | 7:05 pm
Last night was tough. About 3:30am, Susan started complaining that her catheter wasn’t working right. This has happened before, so I called the hospice people, who walked me through the process of irrigating a catheter.
So. Now I know how to irrigate a catheter. Which I can add to my recently-acquired skills of:
* Changing sheets while Susan’s still on the bed.
* Knowing the exactly right angle to tilt a cup so that Susan gets a drink, without getting drenched
* Being able to figure out what she wants or needs when she can’t find the right words
* Knowing which meds to give her, and when
* Administering those meds via syringe, quickly and without fuss
* Brushing her teeth softly enough that it doesn’t jostle her head side to side, but vigorously enough that she feels like her teeth are clean
* Waking quickly and being able to clear out mental cobwebs instantly
The thing I’m really proud of, though, is that Susan needs and calls for me several times per day. Not because she wants me to do anything for her, but just because she’s anxious or afraid or confused or lost, and she thinks I’ll be able to help. Really, when she’s like this it’s almost exactly like being trapped in a bad dream for her. Sometimes it’s a full-blown nightmare, and then I give her a shot of Valium.
Often, though, she’s just confused: “Where are we? Can we please go home?” And I’m able to tell her that we are home, and I’m with her and everything’s OK.
And when it works — she calms down and maybe even drifts off to sleep — it is wonderful. I’ve just done the best thing I could be doing right at that moment: I’ve saved my wife, at least for the moment.
I hate everything about cancer and what it’s doing to Susan, but: I am incredibly proud of the things I’ve learned so I can take care of her.
Speaking of Proud
I’m also incredibly proud of my two sons — ages 15 and 13. They come into Susan’s room several times per day and sit down with her, putting their hands on her arm and talking to her for a few minutes. When she tries to talk back, they do their best to understand. When they can’t make it out, they’ve learned to read her face and respond the best they can: “Don’t worry, everything’s taken care of,” or “That sounds good.”
And they tell her they love her every day.
Does that sound like teenage boys to you?
PS: I have received hundreds of comments and email messages, all of them incredibly kind and generous. Thank you.
Don’t Say She LostIn the current fight for health care for all, remember the human side of it. Remember that you and your loved ones are vulnerable, as are all others. And we need each other's help in this fight.
08.5.2009 | 8:40 pm
Susan died tonight (August 5) at 7:25pm. It was a hard, long day, and Susan fought right to the end, for much longer than anyone would have thought she could.
My mom, my sisters Kellene and Jodi, and my Brother-in-Law Rocky were all here to support my family as Susan passed away.
I’ll have more to say soon, but consider this. Susan inspired me to expand the focus of my blog from nothing but bike-related jokes to a serious and pitched fight against cancer.
Then she inspired 500+ of you to join Team Fatty, the largest LiveStrong Challenge Team there has ever been.
And Team Fatty has raised close to more than $500,000 — a record amount.
Susan’s part in the battle is over, but she didn’t lose. She led the charge. She showed the rest of us how to fight: with determination, focus, creativity, and outrageous endurance.
Now it’s up to the rest of us to Fight Like Susan.
Go give Fatty $5.07 or more. Let's help the fight. Elden has almost broken $100,000 for LiveStrong with this raffle. I think this huge community can help him do it..
Let's blow this out of the water for Susan. Click here!