3 Ways Motorcycle Riding is Like Breast Cancer

My dad’s dad on a Harley

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

Dad on his 1946 Harley

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.

Bruce and me at Sturgis in 1998. (He always wears a helmet now.)

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.

Bruce and me on the 4th of July in Iowa, 1998 or 1999.

26 thoughts on “3 Ways Motorcycle Riding is Like Breast Cancer

  1. I love this…. your comparisons are great. The fellowship, the need to accept the conditions and the understanding that we are all different sums the whole thing up beautifully.

    For me, this list would have started with:
    “I’m afraid of motorcycles and I’m afraid of breast cancer.”
    I don’t fear much and maybe the motorcycle fear is because I live in the land of minivans, SUV’s and harried drivers who pay little attention to those with whom they share the road. I can’t control the roads and I can’t control breast cancer, either.

    Great post!

    • Thank you, AnneMarie! You’re so right, we can’t control either cancer or the road idiots. There are plenty of them out there. We just have to do what we can to be safe.

  2. Would that we only needed a crash helmet, some leather & a lot of defensive driving to fend off the risks of breast cancer!! xoxo

  3. I love this posting, Jackie! What a great analogy. I didn’t know you rode motorcycles, and I think going even 100 miles is a lot. I’m too afraid to ride a motorcycle, but I admire those who are brave enough to do that. Great post!

    • Thank you, Beth! I’m so glad you liked it. Honestly, I had no business being on a motorcycle. I almost flunked out of safety class and actually broke my dirt bike. But I am very proud of myself for having done it safely in spite of myself sometimes. I proved my mom’s theory that God looks out for idiots. 🙂

  4. LOVE this still to this day I love to go for a cycle ride and let the wind blow the cares out of my head!

  5. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up « Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  6. I also loved the analogy…and am having biker chick envy (though as a total chicken I know it’s a hopeless dream!). Ride (and write) on, sister!!

    • Thank you, Liz! Honestly, I’m a chicken too. When Bruce first decided to take up riding I was afraid but I can’t stop him from doing something he enjoys just because I’m scared. Whenever he’s out on the bike without me I worry until he’s safely home. When I’m with him, I’m fine. Go figure!

  7. Pingback: What Do Chasing An MFA & Breast Cancer Have in Common? | Dispatch From Second Base

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