During the 2012 ride, team members met with Randy in Middleton, Wisconsin. At age 29, he was diagnosed with stage II testicular cancer. After undergoing surgery and radiotherapy, he has been cancer free for 31 years. Randy survived his battle with cancer and also helped his mother in her fight with stage IV brain cancer. His mom was also a former breast cancer survivor.
You’re changed. The thing is, when you’re told you have cancer, you don’t have any choice in the matter. You have to accept it. You can’t say, “Nah, I don’t think I want cancer.” You’re told you have it and you just have to accept it and you have to start moving. Things that were important to me before diagnosis, I don’t even really care about them. In the overall scheme of things it’s not that big of a deal. It helps you to re-prioritize your life.
I was fortunate. I was in a good place with very good quality of medical care. They did the surgery. They did the radiotherapy, but they were also concerned about your emotional side. Because that’s something that no one talks about- how you’re dealing with it emotionally. I think the blessing, though, of having being diagnosed with cancer is that I joined a support group for people with life threatening conditions. You just go there and share your story. We were at a meeting one time and this woman said, she was distraught, she said, ‘My son was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer,’ and she started crying. At the time, I was a two year survivor. It was important for her to be able to talk to somebody, to touch somebody, to have that experience because cancer for a lot of people… cancer is synonymous with death. And it’s not always that way.
I don’t like cancer. I hate cancer. I hate the word cancer. I have seen too many people that I have known and love that have been affected or died.
Cancer is unfortunate, but people do survive it. I think you have to be as positive as you can be. It’s going to sound weird, but you also have to maintain a sense of humor throughout the whole thing. You’re diagnosed, what can you do? You can’t change that.
I think cancer survivors, for the most part, have an obligation to other people who have just been diagnosed. There is a great deal more empathy. I mean, if you’ve gone through it, and you talk to somebody who was just diagnosed- unless you’ve gone through it, you really have no idea what that person is going through, I mean medically, emotionally, physically, whatever. And by having that first hand contact with it I think that does put you in a better position to talk to people who have just been diagnosed.
I felt hopeless with my mom.
It was my goal to make my mom laugh every time I visited her after she was diagnosed.
I went up to visit every weekend from the time my mom was diagnosed until the time she died. I said it’s my goal to make my mom laugh every time I visit her. Mom knows how serious this is. Mom knows this is what’s going to kill her. I want mom to be able to laugh and make her laugh every time I go up there. I just felt like "she’s my mom; she gave me everything." I wanted to be there for her.
Robert Ritz Grand Blanc, MI
Michelle White Eagle Kamiah, ID