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Women's Health: Kristin Eagle
This year, Bike to Work Week coincided with National Women's Health Week. As we've showcased in the past, bicycling is a powerful tool to advance health and this month we're sharing diverse stories from women who have tapped into biking as an avenue to wellness. This is Kristin's story.
It was a Sunday afternoon much like any other Sunday. My grandma and I were carefully sorting and organizing our M&M's by color and amount in preparation for the afternoon showing of Godzilla.
The only difference with this particular Sunday was that she started talking to me about challenges and obstacles I would inevitably face later in life. She started staring out the window and telling me that I would fall in love with an idea and that when it happened, it was important to chase it despite any obstacles in my way.
Being nine years old, at that particular moment, I was worried we weren't going to have our M&M's sorted in time for the movie. I was wondering why she seemed so distant. It was unlike her. She said, “Krissy (I hated that name), you only live once. Don't let a dream slip by you because you'll only regret it later in life."
She stared at me for a little bit, then we got back to our sorting and began to watch the movie. I kept looking at her every once in a while and she was sometimes gazing back out the window.
Five years ago I found myself staring out a window much the same way my grandma was when she was clearly deep in thought. I had just been told that I have bone cancer and there was little that could be done. Chemo and radiation would merely prolong my life by a few months at best. They told me I would make it six months at the most. I was thinking about my grandma, our M&M sorting, our Godzilla Sundays and thinking, I haven't chased anything yet. I need more time.
There were things I still wanted to accomplish. I wanted to hike up Longs Peak, see an Elephant in the wild, try mountain biking in Canyonlands National Park and manage to successfully get a business off the ground. This answer that I only had six months simply wasn't good enough and it didn't suit my style. I got angry.
After many discussions with my family, some close friends and my doctor, I decided that I wasn't just going to accept this, I would try something else. My doctor and I changed my diet completely and he suggested I pick an activity that would give me a lot of exercise. I chose cycling as my primary method for exercise. It seemed the perfect choice - it represented fun, releasing that inner child and it also meant health and fitness. After 3 years of pushing my body beyond its limits, I was able to say to those previous doctors that I was now two and a half years over my “expiration.” What did I do with this newfound love for cycling? I decided to chase that entrepreneurial goal and start a cycling website, VeloHut. I wanted to build an online community and information site for cyclists of all types. To me, it doesn't matter what you ride, just that you do and that you love it.
For whatever reason you get on a bike, it’s a good one.
So here I am, now nearly 5 years into my fight and progressively getting stronger and defying doctors by pushing back my bone cancer, and focusing my heart and soul around what's helped me to stay alive -- my bicycle.
Granted, I just recently sold my wonderful bicycle in order to try and make a small dent on some medical bills that have been haunting me with stress. It seemed like a crazy thing to do, I realize that, but some stresses just need to be tackled and I had to try. What happened? My newfound friends in the bicycle community were going to have none of this news. They started a fund to help me raise some money to get me back on a bike as quickly as possible. At so many levels, my feelings about this are unexplainable. The only thing I can say is that I am glad I am apart of the bicycling community. I chose wisely.
This time, I will pick a mountain bike. I WILL someday ride Canyonlands National Park thanks to the support and concern of some very incredible people out there in the bike community.
A slogan I live by these days that says a lot about me: “never give up - never surrender.” I got it from Galaxy Quest. Someday I know I will be able to say “I’m a survivor” rather than “I’m still a fighter.”