In cancer diagnosis, mom finds upside: opportunity to be a role model

This year will be my second year captaining a team for an amazing cause called Cycle for Survival, an indoor spinning event that raises money and awareness for rare or “orphan” cancers. So why do I ride? I’d like to say I ride for the workout and the swag in the goody bags. But that is not the case.

Two and a half years ago, I was coasting my way through life as a wife and mother of three. Charlie is 12, Izzy is 10 and Louie is 7. I went for my usual mammogram and doctors discovered that I had a rare tumor called a borderline phyllodes tumor. What? These compose less than 1 percent of all breast tumors, so there is not a lot of information out there. In aggressive forms, phyllodes can spread and then there is simply no treatment.

Call it coincidence or call it fate-my husband Steve is an oncologist. He had only seen one phyllodes in his practice. But with him as a guide, we gathered what knowledge we could. My tumor was removed and I am monitored closely. I’m healthy, but too many times I heard things like, “We just don’t know,” or, “That’s a shot in the dark.” That is just plain scary and unacceptable, and I want to help prevent someone else from hearing those words.

Cycle provides a way to do that.

Once I found Cycle, I poured all the energy and heart I could into it. I put together a team of my nearest and dearest friends, who I knew would support me and this cause. My team is called MTXE for “mental toughness extra effort.” Seems to fit.

Somewhere along the way I realized I have become a living role model for my children. My passion for the cause was contagious, and they caught it. Soon, on their own initiative, my kids were having hot cocoa sales, bake sales, wearing the team shirt to school, etc. They were even featured on the founder’s blog.

That is the greatest gift that has come out of this experience. My children truly understand the meaning of making a difference!

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