Jay here, with a personal post of thanks (the first of many). There are probably a couple dozen (at least) people who have worked very hard to get The Cycling Semicolons started on this journey. We've had a tremendous outpouring of support before we've even pedaled an inch. I'm very grateful.
I keep trying to draft this post, and it keeps getting longer and longer as I try to explain the background and thank everyone who needs thanking (including Lara, my incredibly supportive fiance). I am going to give up on the background and the long list of thanks for now, since I doubt many of you want to read a tome in blog post #2.
The background of this journey will come out over the upcoming posts, I am sure. For now, let me reiterate that our ride is about ending the silence about colorectal cancer, Crohn's, colitis, ostomies, and other gut diseases. It's about empowering everyone with gut diseases of any kind. It's about ending the stigma, and about saying "enough, already."
And as you might imagine, it's about several things that are intensely personal. For me, one of those things is that I want to honor the hope, the guts, and the determination of Todd Colitti, 10-year colorectal cancer survivor.
Back in August, I learned that a family member had been diagnosed with CRC, out of the blue. He's under 50. Within the next month, I learned that ANOTHER family member was diagnosed with CRC. Out of the blue. He is just barely older than 50. Both men now have temporary ostomies and have been undergoing treatment for the cancer. I have watched as they and their families have come to grips with their disease, with their battles, and with what it means to be diagnosed with and fight colorectal cancer.
Now, I've been in the business of talking about guts (tip of the hat to the Weatherhogg boys) for more than 6 years. I’ve had a working relationship with the folks at The Colon Club for more than 4 of those years. I know all about the silence, the difficulty in talking about all things gut- and CRC-related. I know dozens of people with ostomies. I know people who work at major ostomy supply manufacturers who work very hard to ensure that life for folks with ostomies is as active, hope-filled, and positive as possible.
And even though at the time of these men's diagnoses it was *literally* my day job to talk about guts, still these family members struggled to talk to me about it, or even to those whom I know at The Colon Club who have been through difficult journeys with CRC.
I know a lot of people who battle disease on a regular basis. And I understand that no matter what disease one has, whether it's cancer, Crohn's, colitis, or for that matter, any serious illness, the way in which one deals with that illness is an intensely personal experience. Everyone has his or her own path; everyone finds his or her own way. Those of us who care about those folks can only offer to help, and hope that, if and when we are called upon, we can be there in a way that is needed.
Now - I didn't know Todd 10 years ago when he was actively fighting his battle. I didn't even know him 10 months ago. There are many of you out there reading this blog who have known him far, far longer than I have, and no doubt you know more about what I am writing than I do.
So let me be bold and speak out of turn, and tell you something that you already know: Todd is an inspiration. I pray that my two relatives, who are currently living through challenges that I can only imagine, can benefit from some of Todd's infectious spirit for life and his irresistible commitment to hope.
Thank you, Todd. Thank you for undertaking this with me. Thank you for sharing your story and your vision for life in this way. I think I told you that this is gonna be *huge.* What's you've already accomplished with your life already is.