The scariest thing I’ve ever done is learn to ride a motorcycle, in spite of growing up around Harleys. Being diagnosed with breast cancer was scary too, but it wasn’t a choice. Yet they both have a lot in common, which occurred to me when Bruce and I took his Harley Street Glide out for our first real spring ride yesterday.
1. Fellowship matters. Motorcycle riders who pass each other on the highway greet each other with a wave, left hand extended out and down. It doesn’t matter what brand of bike they’re on.
Same thing with breast cancer. It doesn’t matter if you’re stage 0 or stage IV. In the Twitter #bcsm (breast cancer social media) community, we call it the bat signal. You’re just a tweet away from someone who gets it.
2. Lean with the wind. It’s not uncommon to get knocked around by the wind when you’re on a motorcycle. If you waited until there was no wind, you wouldn’t get out much. And I don’t know how to explain this, but you just naturally lean into it. It used
to amaze me when I was following other riders how they just naturally tilted with the wind. When they got to a buffer caused by trees or hills, they were upright again, and when it passed, the lean came back. I did it too and I have no idea how, I just did. Breast cancer also causes turbulence, and then some. If you can lean into it, you’ll eventually find a buffer that sets you upright again.
3. You‘ve got to ride your own game. That’s something my friend Cindy always used to tell me when I compared myself to other riders. I was never capable of doing 600 miles in one day like she and Bruce and some other friends did when they rode border to border, from Texas to Canada. If I did 100 miles in a day, I was good. After a couple of years of riding, I realized I was much happier as a passenger.
I’ve often said that telling us how we should feel about our diagnosis is like telling us we should be six feet tall or have brown eyes. You may dive into it as though it were a graduate course, or you may trust your doctor to tell you what you need to know. You may decide to throw everything but the kitchen sink at it, or you may determine less is more when it comes to treatment. The choice is ultimately yours.