Susan G. Komen’s 100 Mile Cycle Challenge gives people an opportunity to provide hope and help to families whose lives have been turned upside down because of breast cancer – families like Fernando’s. In August, Fernando clipped into his cycling shoes and pledged to ride 100 miles as a way to honor his mother, Patricia, while also raising funds for Komen.
Fernando, the only boy in the family and the youngest, was especially close to his mother. “She was the kind of person everyone wanted as their mom. She was very loving, the glue to our family, very kindhearted and motherly,” he said. “We had a very strong bond between us. I could be sitting next to her and just know what she was feeling.”
In 2011, Patricia went to the doctor because she was experiencing nipple discharge. When her doctor told her there was a possibility of breast cancer, Fernando made plans to come home from school. “It was a gut wrenching feeling, something I’ve never experienced before,” he said. His family was devastated when Patricia was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, also known as metastatic breast cancer.
“She was so strong throughout everything, her treatment, the difficult times,” Fernando said. When Patricia began losing her hair after chemotherapy, Fernando’s dad shaved her head. Then Fernando and Patricia’s mother shaved their heads, too. “It was a way for us to support her,” he said.
After two years of treatment, Patricia passed away in 2013, when she was 48 years old.
When Fernando signed up for the 100 Mile Cycle Challenge, he did it with his mother on his mind. “Sometimes we go about our days after a loved one has passed and you feel like maybe you’re forgetting the person, and this allowed me to focus on my mom,” he said. “It gave me a chance to remember her and honor her, and to express my love for her. And riding that much can be painful, so it helped me remember what she went through and despite the ugly truth and reality of cancer, she was strong, and she overcame a lot every day.”
Joining the Challenge was like joining a community of like-minded people for Fernando. “There’s this platform and a group of people from all over doing something to remember their loved ones,” he said. “And you’re not alone. It’s the perfect opportunity within our busy lives to ride, whether it’s outside or in class, and remember the pain and the good times with our loved ones. Cycling is a good example of life. We’re constantly moving forward. There are hills we need to climb, there are downhills. Doing a challenge like this is a good way to remember what our loved ones went through.”
Fernando pushed past his 100 miles and met his fundraising goal. “I’m blessed I had my mother with me physically for 25 years,” he said. “Even through some of her darkest days, she didn’t let cancer take her love, joy and laughter.”
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