Once again, I am riding my bicycle in the AIDS/Lifecycle, to raise money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. It’s a 545 mile ride, from San Francisco to Los Angeles; it takes 7 days. I want to raise $4000 for SFAF.
Three years ago, I signed up for the ride with my husband. People said “Why? Who in your family or your life has AIDS?” The easy reponse is the slogan “we are all living with AIDS.” Very true and high-minded. But the real answer was that I wanted to prove to myself that I was “even better than before.”
In 1999, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I did surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. (There are several long stories about that time in my life, but to be honest I’ve become a bit bored with them. Maybe another entry someday.) At the end of the year, I said that I would do something special to celebrate my survival. But I put it off, and put it off. I couldn’t think of anything that was sufficiently meaningful.
In 2004, I started bicycling. In the fall, I saw a brochure for ALC4 in the bicycle shop and brought it home to my husband. “I want to do this,” I told him. “I want to prove that the cancer is behind me.” We raised the $5000 that was required for both of us to ride in June 2005. I made it through the ride, though I did have to take off one afternoon due to lymphoedema.
What I didn’t expect was the community I found on the ride. People of all faiths, genders, races and sexual orientations came together for a week, and treated each other with great kindness. I hated for the week to end, although I was a little tired of sleeping in a tent and not having a flush toilet. We were hooked.
Last year, I worked as a volunteer while my husband rode his bicycle. In 2007, it is my turn to ride the bicycle while he volunteers. I am lucky to be able to share in this community and the fight to end AIDS. It has become a cause that is close to my heart.