As you may have seen in a previous post, I’m cycling across the US and raising money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, since I have metastatic prostate cancer. We crossed the 2,000 mile mark a couple days ago, as we were almost out of Kansas.
Every state has its charms. One charm about Kansas is that hills rise for dozens of feet instead of hundreds, like the Appalachians and Ozarks. That leads to another charm about Kansas. The flat roads and fields that go far over the horizon give you a lot of time to sort out your thoughts.
My thoughts focused on the symptoms of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). If you haven’t heard of it, ADT shuts off a guy’s testosterone because prostate cancer needs testosterone.
One thought is playful but true. I used to get annoyed by hot flashes, which are common with ADT. On this trip, I haven’t noticed flashes because they’re nothing compared to the sweat that comes from cycling 50-75 miles anyway. It’s almost as if I’m telling the hot flashes, “You’re going to need to do a lot better than that, to get noticed.”
Other parts aren’t so playful. My oncologist told me I would be fine on this trip, but I’d be slower because of fatigue, another symptom of ADT.
I’m the youngest person in my group, by about 10 years on average. Hills wear me down faster than others, and I’m usually one of the last to finish each day, which feels annoying. I’ve been an endurance athlete for decades. I don’t need to finish toward the front, but it’s annoying to consistently finish toward the back.
You might think that it’s still impressive that I’m cycling across the country. I agree, to a point, but I actually like being annoyed about finishing toward the back. Being annoyed makes me fight cancer harder.
The most challenging part of cycling with cancer is another symptom of ADT. It makes me more emotional. Sometimes, the emotions are good. I get even more amazed at the beauty of the Appalachians, the Ozarks, or the flat Kansas prairies.
But other times, the emotions aren’t so nice. During those times, I cry. When I’m cycling by myself, the anger and tears about having cancer can come out. Maybe that’s from ADT making me more emotional or maybe the anger and tears need to come out. We all deal with the emotional side of cancer in different ways. I’m don’t have a problem talking about my cancer and it’s side effects, as this blog post shows, but if I need to cry or get angry, I much prefer to be alone. That’s another benefit of long bike rides.
A final benefit of cycling across the USA addresses one of the most annoying symptoms of ADT, lack of libido and the determination of healthy masculinity. When I cycled down mountains, I went faster than before, and the thrill was amazing, felt like I had plenty of testosterone. I won’t say how fast I went, but I will say that I felt like I was cycling safely within my limits, as an experienced cyclist. Other guys could choose to go a little faster within their limits—on their bike, skis, legs, or whatever works for you. But please, be safe.
I wandered into more than I expected with this blog post, but when you’re cycling through the flat farm lands of Kansas, there’s plenty of time to sort through a lot of thoughts. Overall, I’m happier than ever that I took this ride. There have been some tough moments, physically and emotionally, but while working through those, I’ve seen wonderful sights and met amazing people from many countries.
If you want to learn more about my ride, my cycling blog is at “ http://toiringonthatbike.com “. If you want to make a donation to prostate cancer research, I would personally appreciate it. My page for donations is at “ http://manyvscancer.org/stevensride “.