16 April 2012
This is not correct.
This is not the way the story goes. The ending is too soon. Chapters are missing.
The story, which began about 3 months ago, was one of courage, valor, and strength. One of a woman who had overcome, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, the ravages of breast cancer. Someone who renewed my hope in humanity. Someone who had a spectacular sense of humor. Someone who knew how to love, how to give, how to receive and how to live. Someone whose qualities I wish I could call my own.
Her name was Milly. Milagros. A miracle.
I met Milly for the first time at Pedal Spin Studio in South Pasadena, California. I was a Spin and TRX instructor at the time. Bryan Yates, a partner at Pedal Spin where I taught, had recommended Milly to me as a coaching client. I was eager to jump at the chance to be a part of something big. It was a daunting task: to coach Milly to race the Furnace Creek 508, a 500 mile road bike race across the deserts of Southern California. This is the stuff of Heroines.
Milly and her partner Laura came to my class, where I met the two for the first time. As I learned more about Milly in our first one-on-one, I was elated. Here was a project for me. To work with a breast cancer survivor who would pedal her way into the ultra-endurance cycling fame. I was inspired by her determination, her spirit and her calm. With an endless group of supporters and cheerleaders, we were on our way to doing something big. Something that would resonate through society– breast cancer survivors and all people alike.
We made a plan, which included a century, a double century and ultimately the Furnace Creek 508.
For the first two weeks of our coaching relationship, Milly went to a cleansing retreat. It was a cancer treatment detox– and a life detox. Upon her return we hit the pavement with wheels in full spin. Training rides, Spinning, you name it.
But Milly was experiencing pain in her hip and had a few other issues. These issues led to acupuncture, massage therapy and days off the bike. Perhaps the Spin bike and its wide Q-factor was causing the problem. Perhaps we need to do an updated bike fit. As we convinced ourselves it had to do with fit, the pain worsened and Milly eventually returned to her doctor.
This was when the cascade of bad news began its constant downpour upon our weary heads.
Cancer. And it wasn’t just cancer. It was cancer times ten, with a molded cherry on top.
Now all I could do was sit around and wait to hear. No riding. No training. Century ride cancelled. Reworking the training plans. Double century put off. Now we’re getting tight on time.
I went to see Milly and Laura while Milly was still able to get around and somewhat see. We were hopeful. “You will pedal again,” I told her. The time we spent that day was precious. I reluctantly left, having little idea I would never see her alive again. The hope in me was belief, and that belief was strong.
The treatments went from full on to palliative, and hope began to run away with my cheerful ambitions. I began to worry. I began to craft stories in my head of how miraculously she recovered and went on to ride the 508. There is still a glimpse of hope’s veil, I can see it.
Now there were thoughts in my mind of the two of us on a tandem riding the 508. I was in. I was committed.
The days and weeks ticked by, and as things worsened, news grew bleaker by the day.
“She’s still here this morning,” was the daily Facebook post I would read at work every morning and fight back tears, and gulp loudly, force a smile and get back to work. I felt guilty and selfish for feeling this was being done to me. That our 508 dreams were being dashed. So many others so much closer to her must feel this way. I had no right. in spite of that, I did feel that way, and I felt we had all been robbed of happier times.
Milly passed away on Sunday, April 15, 2102. She is gone, and our dream has vanished. In her wake, a team will ride the Furnace Creek 508 for her.
Milly, I wish you were here. Your Spirit is free and you feel no more pain. To have known you gives me much pleasure. Thank you for the good times, the smiles, the laughter and the power of your spirit that touched and changed me. I know how it feels to set a goal, to prepare and to pull it off, and I am sorry you did not have the chance to fulfill this one. I will ride for you. I ride for you. I will never give up, just for you.