Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Heartbreaking Loss

On April 20th, my fellow Cyclopath and friend, Sue de Vries, lost her 5-year battle with breast cancer. It is a heartbreaking loss to all who know and love her.

Sue was an inspiration to all of us. Even when she was tired from treatments and studies and chemotherapy, Sue was always near the front of the pack. I was fortunate to know and ride with her, and have always been amazed by her strength and spirit.

I had believed she would beat this disease. She had been so strong and healthy and full of life. When I saw Sue three weeks before she passed away, I knew how grave her health had become. She was weak and tired, ravaged with cancer. We gave each other a hug and didn't acknowledge it. She asked about the kids, Mike, and the Cyclopaths... she didn't want to talk about what was going on with her... and she made me promise to ride on Saturday, even though it was supposed to be cold and rainy. "I want to hear you were riding."

When I asked Sue several times, "What can I do to help?", she always replied, "Keep riding the PMC".

In January, I was debating over whether or not to ride this year. Honestly, the fundraising seems so daunting. But compared to what Sue was going through, I couldn't complain to her that the fundraising was tough, or that I had 20 pounds to lose, or that it was too difficult to carve out the time to train. She only asked one thing of me -- "Keep riding the PMC." That was all she asked.

She was truly an amazing woman.

As I train for this year's PMC, I cannot get the image of me following Sue, with her pink Terry bike seat, as we headed up the hills towards Gloucester last summer. Damn if she didn’t always beat me on the hills. She didn’t always feel well, but she was still out there, and I found her to be an inspiration. I really enjoyed riding with her.

I am heartbroken that she has lost the battle.