After retirement, I was just living my life without any direction. Just enjoy my retirement.
Then came along a 6 month illness that ended with a stroke caused by a failed heart valve. My doctors tell me they almost lost me. I don't even remember preparation for open heart surgery. But the ticking of the valve in my chest is a constant reminder. The first time I had to decide if I really wanted to live, and what quality of life.
Through that experience and cardiac rehab, I realized I have something to live for. I took up riding a bicycle for exercise. A year after onset of health problems, I was pedaling a bicycle. Soon, cycling was my life.
During this time, I was diagnosed with PTSD, believed to be from my service in Viet Nam. I was put on an anti-depressant.
My life refocused. With cycling, photography, and computers as the focal points, I started racking up the miles pedaling my bicycles. I started carrying a camera in the pocket of my cycling jersey. Soon, I was a fixture in the local cycling community.
Folks comment that I am an inspiration. I just want to be a better cyclist. My love for riding my bikes, brought me to giving back to the cycling community. As I found myself immersed into volunteering for the local trail groups. Started a cycling blog and added a cycling section of my web site. My cycling allowed me to kick the depression. Even started a photography business.
That brings us to 2010. At the end of 2009 I was diagnosed with cancer - Extraskelatal Myxoid Chondrosarcoma. 2010 started with a lung biopsy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. I believe the miles I spend on the bicycles last year made me stronger and better able to fight the cancer. My greatest achievement of 2010 was riding over 2000 miles, it was the 340 miles ridden during cancer treatments.
My doctors have been giving me good reports. The cancer is still there, but I can't let it drive my life. At the end of 2010, I believe I have given another lease on life. What do I do with it in 2011?
I think there are larger contributions that I can make for the cycling community and the area in general. It is in my photography arts? Spreading the word of cycling as a life style? Getting involved with wellness programs?
Since the stroke, I have been apprehensive about my public speaking. And at times, my writing can get difficult (the right words just don't pop up). This morning I caught the Charlie Rose show on PBS. He was interviewing Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen. He is battling cancer and recovering from a stroke – in the same year! Gave me the incentive to carry on, and do more.
Bring it on 2011...