Why do I ride, why do I serve, why do I donate? Tour des Chutes has just always made sense to me. To say that being diagnosed with cancer during my final week of high school, over 25 years ago, changed me as a person is an understatement. At a time when my friends were heading off to college and spreading their wings, I was spending my weeks in the hospital and doctor’s offices having surgery and getting chemotherapy. I was trying to understand how I could have some semblance of control over my own body and health when everything seemed out of control and was moving at warp speed while decisions were being made about my health. Empowering myself and learning what I needed, beyond just the standard of care for my diagnosis, were daily lessons and allowed me to get through each day.
I learned that I needed exercise, connection, community and support beyond just my western medical treatments. I was fortunate enough during my treatment to be able to run and ride my bike on days when I was feeling strong enough. I reached out to organizations addressing my needs beyond the hospital and doctor’s offices and I survived.
When I moved to Bend and learned about TdC I knew I had to participate. My first Tour des Chutes reminded me that exercise and community should be at the cornerstone of cancer treatment. After several more TdC’s, I was inspired to become a sponsor of the annual event. And a couple years later I was asked to serve on the board. TdC’s mission is simple and straightforward-to support cancer care and survivorship for adults and children in Central OR.
TdC acknowledges the many needs that people and families with cancer have and diligently works to meet those needs wherever possible. Paying for an electric bill so a family’s electricity is not turned off, offering gas cards for patients who must commute to Bend each day for radiation treatment, purchasing a generator for someone with cancer who is living in a trailer and needs heat for the winter, are all things that TdC has supported over the years while I’ve served as a board member.
As a teenager with cancer, I was ignorant of the terrible financial stress that a cancer diagnosis puts on a family. As a board member, I am acutely aware of this strain and take my role on the TdC board seriously. I am here to support the event so we can continue to support the needs of Central OR residents with cancer.