The time has come for another epic adventure in the Year of the Bee!
Anyone who knows me knows my story and understands why I care so much about educating and serving the motorcyclists of the world. Most of those who know me also remember my epic CONGA ride last year and what a passion I have for long-distance touring because of it.
Thanks to my 4200-mile-long trip to Wyoming and back, I was able to contribute to a cause that raised nearly $50,000 to fight Breast Cancer in 2011. While there, I met many amazing women, including Tamela Rich who has redefined what a “newbie rider” is truly capable of. In her most recent newsletter she challenged her readers (and, subsequently me) to consider other ways to contribute to the cause beyond just raising money. Tamela has chosen to spend her summer adventurecating (yes, I made that up) rather than fundraising. I’ve taken her cue to heart and have decided to narrow my focus as well. I’ve always related to breast cancer survivors as a trauma survivor myself. After all, I did sheer-off half of my left breast during my crash in 2005. Although I have never been diagnosed with cancer, I know what it is like to go through surgeries, medical treatment, and physical therapy only to find myself staring a lifelong recovery in the face. I just didn’t know how to connect the dots until I did a little bit of research…
THE BREAST CANCER CONNECTION
Patricia Ganz, MD is the Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention & Control Research at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA, among many other things. Patricia studies many of the aspects related to Breast Cancer Survivorship and the issues these women face post-treatment (both surgery and chemotherapy). In her study titled Breast cancer survivors: psychosocial concerns and quality of life, Patricia writes, “In spite of relatively good physical and emotional functioning on a generic measure of health status and quality of life, these breast cancer survivors reported a number of important and severe rehabilitation problems that persisted beyond one year after primary treatment. Especially frequent were problems associated with physical and recreational activities, body image, sexual interest, sexual function, and problems with dating for those who were single.”
Her study concluded that, “Breast cancer survivors appear to attain maximum recovery from the physical and psychological trauma of cancer treatment by one year after surgery. A number of aspects of quality of life and rehabilitation problems worsen after that time.”
In an article written by Margaret L. Polinski, much focus was placed on what she calls the “chronicity” of a breast cancer diagnosis. She writes, “For all cancer survivors what begins as a crisis involving diagnosis and treatment gradually becomes a chronic illness characterized by lifelong follow-up medical care, indelible psychological effects, and changes in social and employment relationships. In general, breast cancer survivorship is characterized by “mild morbidity” and non-life-threatening problems not likely to be mentioned to others. However, some studies have documented important longer-term effects of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.”
Margaret pointed readers in the direction of an International Support Network called Reach to Recovery. I was curious about the group as I had never heard of them before. I found some information on the American Cancer Society’s website, but wanted to know more. And then I found it: Reach to Recovery International‘s website. I spent about 10.5 seconds looking at the homepage before I was on the brink of tears. What pulled on my heartstrings so strongly, you ask? They publish an educational newsletter called BLOOM which “promotes the exchange of current information on training, advocacy, research, volunteer and peer support.” Sounds a little like Rock the Gear, eh? To top it all off, their next conference is in South Africa, the childhood home of my late friend Natasha Louis, who was killed in a motorcycle crash at the Jennings track early this year. That was all the sign I needed to indicate that I was on the right path. With that, my summer mission was born. So, without further ado, I dub this year’s adventure…
THE SURVIVOR RIDE
In 2012, the sole purpose for my ride will be to bring attention to the often forgotten SURVIVORS of breast cancer who need ongoing medical attention, psychological care, hope and encouragement, and most of all: the help and support of others. When it comes to awareness prevention and finding a cure are at the forefront, but we mustn’t ignore the challenges of breast cancer survivorship. The women who do survive this terrible disease have a lifelong battle ahead of them. I aim to bring attention to this issue and the many programs offered for these women. I also hope to show everyone how they each have an opportunity to help. As an example, I’ve included photos from a campaign called THE SCAR PROJECT which aims to empower young breast cancer survivors by allowing them to cope with their battle by sharing images of their scars with the world. I truly identify with this group of women, because I share their struggle to accept my disfigurement on a daily basis. The best part? There are many ways to get involved regardless of your experiences, and I aim to encourage others to get involved while I trek across the country this summer.
“CONQUERING DEATH” on Saturday, July 7th – Leave from Los Angeles, California. Ride through Death Valley National Park to Las Vegas, Nevada. 403 Miles
“COURAGE UNDER FIRE” on Sunday, July 8th – Leave from Las Vegas, Nevada. Ride through Valley of Fire State Park to Salt Lake City, Utah. 505 Miles
“PINK RIBBON SOLDIER” on Monday, July 9th – Leave from Salt Lake City, Utah. Ride through Soldier Mountain Game Preserve to Boise, Idaho. 510 Miles
“UPSTREAM BATTLE” on Tuesday, July 10th – Leave from Boise, Idaho. Ride through Salmon – Challis National Forest to Bozeman, Montana. 508 Miles
“WILD WARRIOR” on Wednesday, July 11th – Leave from Bozeman, Montana. Ride through Beartooth Pass and Chief Joseph Highway to Sheridan, Wyoming. 415 Miles
“CONGA QUEEN” on Thursday, July 12th – Stay in and around Shell, Wyoming for the WWR Conga V.
“PEAK OF AWARENESS” on Friday, July 13th – Leave from Sheridan, Wyoming. Ride through Pike National Forest to Colorado Springs, Colorado. 530 Miles
“MOUNTAINOUS JOURNEY” on Saturday, July 14th – Leave from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Ride through Rocky Mountains to Tuba City, Arizona. 535 Miles
“GRAND RECOVERY” on Sunday, July 15th – Leave from Tuba City, Arizona. Ride through Grand Canyon State Park to Phoenix, Arizona. 497 Miles
“SEA OF HOPE” on Monday, July 16th – Leave from Phoenix, Arizona. Ride through Salton Sea State Park to Apple Valley, California. 464 Miles
To see my route in detail, click on the map below!
CAN I DO THIS ALONE?
Absolutely not! I need your help! Just like the millions of women who have survived breast cancer, I need support from my friends and family (and even strangers) if I aim to make it through this journey alive. Just like The Scars Project’s slogan “Breast Cancer is Not a Pink Ribbon” my cross-country trek will be long and harsh – but totally possible with the resources of those who recognize and support such a struggle.
In order to thank those who are supporting my mission this year, I will be doing a daily blog post as a 30-day countdown to ramp-up for the ride. Every day I will highlight another product that will be helping me to “survive” the survivor ride. I will also keep an up-to-date count on the donations I’ve received and a list of people/companies who have donated. If you can give in any way, you will be recognized and thanked for all the world to see!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
What do I need? The better question would be what don’t I need? Here’s a list of the few most-important things:
Places to sleep! If you want to donate a bed or a couch for a night, check my schedule above to see if I’m staying in your town (or a town near you). If you can host me for a night, send me an email (Brittany@RocktheGear.org). I’ll coordinate with you personally and be forever in your debt.
Places to Promote! Will I be traveling through your hometown on my journey or staying in your city for a night? Help me get the word out by suggesting or hosting a small event for some local coverage with international impact. You can even call the news or do a short editorial for the local newspaper, and I’ll be eternally grateful.
Gas money! This is a big one, because my survival literally relies on making it to the next town. If you donate to my ride’s fuel bill, 50% will go to gas (up to the $600 fuel budget), 25% will go to Reach to Recovery International and 25% will go The Scar Project. Even a dollar can make a difference, so every cent is greatly appreciated.
Riding buddies! In the spirit of the CONGA, I encourage others to join me for a few miles when I’m in and around your local stomping grounds. If you want to experience a part of this epic journey with me, just shoot me an email (Brittany@RocktheGear.org) and we can plan accordingly!
Exposure! Do you know someone who makes a product I could use on my trip or provides a service I would find useful? Help me survive this ride and spread the word by showing them this post! If nothing else, forwarding this blog via email to 5 friends or posting a link on your Facebook page can be a wonderful gift. You can also follow and retweet me on Twitter (@Brit2Morrow) and use #SurvivorRide to encourage others to follow me on my journey in July.
I’ve already received support from touring accessories brands like POWERLET and TWISTED THROTTLE and my friends over at ICON have outfitted me with a full set of gear tough enough for the most rugged of rides. I’m hoping to get GOPRO and GARMIN onboard as well. Wouldn’t it be cool to watch footage of my ride everyday? If you think so, hit up GoPro’s facebook page and let them know that you want to see the #SurvivorRide in HERO 2 HD! ROADRUNNER magazine will be linking to the ride updates as well, so make sure to thank them for their support.
Just click on the text link below and enter your desired contribution amount. You can choose to receive a receipt by email and half of your donation will be tax deductible.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read through this entire post. I believe these women and I share a special connection and it’s time to shed some light on their struggle. I am truly honored to be partaking in such a mission and have charged myself with quite the task. I am confident that I am up for the challenge as a true survivor who knows there are no mountains too high, no valleys too low, no rivers too wide… and if I have to cross a million of them to take a stand, you can bet I’m all in.
– Brittany Morrow