Sturgis

2012 Cancer Took Me For The Ride Of My Life

May of 2012 brought with it news of a serious illness, Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The cancer won’t let you ever forget

The chemo won’t let you remember 

The lumps I had discovered in October 2011 near my groin were tested by Ultra sound or whatever the device is they use to look at babies in the womb, you know the gel and the slick surface sliding around looking inside you. Any way I was told it was infection in my lymph nodes due to a recent appendectomy and prescribed antibiotics.

In November 2011 I had suffered an injury to my neck and underwent testing to see if there was damage to my discs. Those results noted, in addition to the disc damage a mystery lump in the front of my neck. Noted as not fully viewed, incomplete view as an additional note. A possible goiter of 2.5 cm. I was tested for thyroid levels and prescribed a drug to correct the slightly off levels that may help with the “goiter”.

May of 2012 was my follow-up from my November visit. The look on the doctors face said it all when I complained about the lump on my neck not getting any smaller and actually getting larger. Nurse! called the doctor. Get Rick over to a specialist to look at his throat.

The lump had grown to 9 cm. I was sent for an EKG and other test to see if I could survive a surgery to possibly put in a Traciatmy or and remove the growth. But first a biopsy, fine needle type. while I lay on the table after the biopsy told not to move . I can hear the clink of glass vials and a stirring sound and another doctor that I can’t remember his name came in and while this is all happening I can hear the doctor on a phone call saying medical terms and  decimal point readings, that I have no idea of what  the meaning is. I was not told anything other than my doctor would be in contact with me about my results.

This was a Friday at the end of May and was a long weekend due to Memorial day everything was closed on Monday. By the time I arrived at my home after the biopsy the throat specialist had called my house and left a message on my machine. I listened to the message that said: Rick our office will be closed on Monday but we need to see you on Tuesday first thing in the morning to test for cancer in other parts of your body. That was it I had not been told by anyone that I had cancer and still wasn’t sure but I was pretty sure that this means I have cancer and they want to look further to see the full extent of the cancer but I don’t know if it means that this was not cancer in my neck but they wanted to look in other areas of my body for cancer. I just didn’t know and the doctor’s office had closed for the long weekend. You see this long weekend is kind of big deal here, there is a little race called the Indianapolis 500. This would be one I won’t forget.  Yet I can’t recall what I did this weekend what so ever.

Finding out you have Cancer is bad enough but not knowing for sure may be worse but you still have hope.

Tuesday I walked into the specialist office, that had left the message on Friday. Immediately the doctor started apologizing for the message because he thought I already knew it was cancer in my neck. Sorry we thought that your family doctor would have told you.

After a PET Scan and an introduction to the oncologist I was told what type of cancer I had and that the good news is, that the type I have is very treatable but there is bad news. Whats the bad news, I asked. We have to check your bone marrow to make sure it is not in your marrow. Hop up on this table. Now here? Yes it won’t hurt too much if you hold still. A doctor and two nurses to hold me down. Good job Doc, not as bad as I expected. What are your plans for the rest of the day? asked the oncologist. I don’t have any plans. By this point I was consumed with anxiety about what the future was going to be like for me and my family. Go check yourself into the hospital right now. We need to start treatment as soon as possible.

This was the beginning of the journey of my lifetime.

I can’t begin to tell you how many thoughts run through your head the emotional ones, the rational ones. Why me? how, what could I have done different and making sure all your affairs are in order, then reality of the treatments and the illness itself takes hold of you and you calmly succumb to the drugs and the poison that while it’s killing the cancer it’s slowly killing good cells as well.

I remember family and friends rallying around me. Praying for me and encouraging me to be strong. I remember the strength Carla showed and the sadness she was feeling, even though she always put on a positive front. I remember thinking after the first treatment, this is not so bad I feel ok lets go for a ride. And ride we did. Riding is the best therapy for the mind there is. You become consumed with the clutch, the gears, the curves and the grade of the pavement that for a short time you forget all about the cancer.

If you’re not living you’re dying 

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I don’t know where I read that but it’s the truth. Stay busy living and you won’t think about dying. It’s what we all do every day. Because in reality we are all going to die and during our life we keep busy with life and living that we never think about dying. Having said that: After your told you have a serious life threatening illness you tend to think about death more.

I would have to take 6 treatments of a Chemo called R-CHOP. The side effects included hair loss and all the other usual suspects with many Chemo therapies. Memory or Chemo Brain, nerve damage, Immune system weakness, possible heart damage. Just to name a few. My treatment would be intravenous in the Oncologist office every three weeks with blood test and scans thrown in to check progress and organ function. If the blood test didn’t make the cut for the correct levels I could not get the next treatment until my blood count was back up. I carried a note with me every place I went with instructions for medical personnel to follow incase my fever went over 101.5f I would need a blood transfusion. Infection would be more likely to kill me than the cancer at this point because basically the Chemo was destroying my immune system. I was told to stay out of the sun as much as possible and to avoid eating fruits and things that could not be peeled like blue berries or strawberries and buffet style dining.

Infection was my enemy as much as the cancer at this point. I was not as cautious about the food I ate and the places I would eat as I should have been. But I survived.

While all this was going on Carla would not let me slow down or give in, she would say it’s a nice day you know the doctor said you should stay active. And off we would go riding and sightseeing. Every doctors visit went the same the doctor would ask me how I was feeling tell me about my blood count and ask me if I still planned on going on my Sturgis trip in August. My answer was always the same, I feel fine and yes I plan on going to Sturgis in August. You should rethink your plans, you are going to be to tired to ride that far. You are going to suffer from fatigue and it’s going to be out in the middle of no where then what? the doctor asked me. I am fine I would say. This went on every visit and every treatment session until one day my door told me that if I didn’t change my plans she would make it so I couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to go period. Wow she is serious! So we compromised that if I would agree to trailer my bike out to Sturgis I would be ok to ride while I was out there and we could still make the trip as planned.

So trailer we did.

This is the shirt I wore every year on the ride out. Ooopps!

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$100.00 for every 100 miles traveled in fuel when I could do this entire trip and only spend $350. for fuel on the bike. Details of the trip are foggy. It is strange the things I do remember are things I would not normally remember from a trip. I don’t remember concerts or musical acts or places we rode to. I am sure we did all the must see while in Sturgis I have a few pictures from the trip no where near the picture we would normally take. I remember Marco running into the back of a guys Harley and later falling over and sliding down an embankment. I remember meeting the tallest woman I ever met before. I remember driving home and struggling with the fatigue the doctor warned me about.

After returning from Sturgis I was at my 5th treatment and it was starting to get the best of me. This is when I thought: This is what it feels like to die. I could barely get off of the sofa. Eating became a chore. Family and friends would make food for me and bring it by the house. I swear to you that beef stew may have saved my life. I ate the stew and came back from the dead. I was ready to take my last treatment and keep fighting.

The best words I ever heard

Your scan looks beautiful!

When I heard those words it was like the weight was lifted. All in all we hardly slowed down a bit. I think staying active helped a great deal. Riding is the best therapy for me and always has been.

After surviving the cancer and the Chemo we started planing some bucket list trips and thats what we have been doing since. In 2013 we went southwest and in 2014 we went northwest. Those trips will be more interesting and nice to look at with the use of the GoPro and locations other than Sturgis.

Life is made up of peaks and valleys
this time of my life was a valley
Life after Chemo is a peak
We have been riding high every since

 

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Categories: cancer, Harley Davidson, Motorcycle, Sturgis, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

2011 Sturgis I Finally Found My Photos

2011 would be Carla’s first trip to Sturgis and my second time. The plan was like that of last year. Meet in Indianapolis and leave early on Friday morning and make it to Sioux City, Iowa 740 miles.

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This was our group minus two guys from Ohio that are coming in the morning with a trailer pulling their bikes. After some drinks and dinner some went to the hotel and some went to their homes until early in the morning.

This would be Diana’s first ride to Sturgis but she has ridden for almost 20 years and also a subject of one of my earlier posts. https://harleytravelsandtips.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/life-is-to-short/ The year before, I went with Ken and Jon who have been out to Sturgis several times. Dave and Greg I had just met this evening before we left.


The next morning Carla and I are up early and ready to go. Diana has left her house and is on the way to the hotel where the others are preparing and waiting on us. Carla and I meet Diana at the hotel and I can tell by the look on her face the others had over slept. Ken, Jon, Dave and Greg had just started moving while Diana, Carla and I are saddled up and ready to go.

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Diana looking like she is ready to go and a little pissed that the others are dragging ass. There is a story about a shower shoe (flip flop) found in the lobby of the hotel, lost by a drunk member of our group. That flip flop made us late thats all I know. We finally had everyone ready to ride except the guys from Ohio with the truck and trailer. They are on the way “about 10 minutes out” Ken shouts. About is the key word here. Thirty to forty five minutes later the truck arrives. This was good to know we had a chase vehicle just in case. The only thing was the truck took off before we did and stayed out front most of the time only a phone call away. Why did we wait for them again? I never have figured that one out.

Finally we get on the road and covered some ground, we did make it to Sioux City, Iowa around 9:00 pm Friday evening. Some where west of Des Moines, Iowa it rained on us and it rained hard. So hard cars and trucks pulled off interstate 80. The rain didn’t last long and we rode it out and regrouped after it had stopped raining.

photo 1

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We also had a minor gasoline issue. When you are out in corn country sometimes the best octane you can get is 89. Keep in mind that some of the stretches of road out west of Des Moines has few places to fuel so when you can, you fill up. Only one of us refused to put 89 octane in his bike, Greg! You have to it’s all you can get. Nope I will wait until the next stop I have plenty of gas Greg says. You will never guess what happens next. Yes thats right we had to stop so Greg could get some fuel and it was 8 miles off of the interstate and yes it was 89 octane. This is what makes it a journey and not just a ride.


The second day started off much better and it would be a bitter sweet day because we knew that Diana was going to peel off from our group and make her way down to Custer, South Dakota where she was going to stay. The rest of us would be heading to the Legendary Buffalo Chip.

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Closer and closer only 3 or 4 fuel stops until we make it to Sturgis. More bikes than cars on the road the closer you get to Sturgis. Bikes of all shapes and sizes all makes and models. you start seeing grandmothers riding a trike with a Chevy 350 V8 motor, you see a dad on a Ultra then the mom on a Street Glide and the daughter on a Softail and baby brother of this family on a Sporster with a side car, all matching in black, the family rides. We had made good time and started getting thirsty near New Underwood, SD, population 660. Good thing there is a biker bar in New Underwood and it’s only 48 miles from Sturgis.

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It is small but it’s a good one. Cold beer, shirts for sell and a stripper pole, what else can you ask for. If my memory serves me correctly this is where we say goodbye to Diana. We will see her a few times while we are in Sturgis and she will ride back to Indianapolis with us.


 During the week in Sturgis we did plenty of riding and partying!

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You can even buy this whole town of Scenic

Scenic SD For Sale

Different strokes for different folks.
We ride a loop out through the corner of Montana and back towards Devils Tower.

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Hulett Wyoming on Wednesday serves free ham and beans to everyone who wants it.
By the way it is also no panties Wednesday.

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You have to visit Aladdin Population-15 and all 15 sitting outside watching the bikes rumble passed.

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On to the Stone House Saloon.
The entire place is covered with autographs from all over the globe.

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The girls meet Boner the skeleton.

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Out towards Pactola Lake on the way to Iron Mountain and Needles Highway.

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Needles and Iron Mountain

Nice View

Friends Patty, Don and Diana from Indiana with Carla and I.

Gang

Needles

Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain 2

Mount Rushmore view

Mt Rushmoore

Now on down the road to Keystone and Deadwood

Main street Deadwood SD

Hoosiers in Deadwood 10 am

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End the day at the Buffalo Chip for concerts and a party
My 2011

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Yep that’s Rupert of Survivor fame

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You see all kinds of people at the Buffalo Chip

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We survived the festivities to ride again another day


This day we visited the Broken Spoke Saloon to see the Jasmine Cain Band.

Jasmine Cain Band

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Get to stepping

Next stop we stumbled into One Eyed Jacks

This place was off the hook with dancing, body painting, body shots and friendly people.

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Jerry taking or giving a body shot I don’t know

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This is all good clean fun.

As you can see Jerry is cleaning the whipped cream off of this bartenders belly.
I can’t tell who had more fun Jerry or Whip cream girl.


Back to the Buffalo Chip for more concerts and good times with friends

Charlie and I

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I finally found my files from Sturgis 2011.
This discovery helped to jog my memories of the trip

2012 trip to Sturgis will be the last one as after we had made reservations and put money down for the trip in August,

I was diagnosed with Lymphoma in May of 2012.

The first thing I asked the doctor was is it going to kill me? Not if you respond to treatment and follow doctors orders, said the doctor. Then I asked if I was going to be able to work, make a living? It’s up to you and how you feel, I was told. Then I asked if I would be able to go to Sturgis in August? How do you plan on getting out there? Asked the doctor. I am riding. You might want to reconsider your plans, I was told. As time went on and the treatment got worse my doctor actually told me if I didn’t change my plan and trailer my bike to Sturgis she would make it so I couldn’t go at all. Well the doctor is always right so I did trailer in 2012. That story is coming soon if I can remember what happened and find my photos. The Chemo made the trip less memorable for me.

I do know this.
Do not put off your dreams until all you can do is look back and say I wish I would have done this when I was younger.

You are never going to be any younger than you are now!

Categories: Buffalo Chip, Harley Davidson, Sturgis | Tags: , | 2 Comments

2010 STURGIS, First Time.

Early in the year my friends all talked a good game about taking a road trip out to Sturgis in August for the Rally. This was going to be a kind of scouting expedition the wife wasn’t going she had a commitment to feed the orphans in Nicaragua.

Under the assumption that I could do this “MAN STYLE” i.e.. no comforts just the bike a tent and some beer money. I knew that I would not need a very big budget. So I started researching campground and the route. I figured I would need about $300. for the week at the Legendary Buffalo Chip. http://www.buffalochip.com . I also figured about $60. a day for food and another $50 or so for beer, this was the rough draft in my head and looked very doable.

As time went by and the departure time grew closer the number of friends that couldn’t or wouldn’t go grew larger and my brothers for the road grew smaller and smaller until it was just me. I don’t hold it against them, because I knew I was going no matter what.

I continued to research  about Sturgis and the area because that’s how I roll I educate myself, so I know what I might be getting myself into. As I researched I found a guy from my state (Indiana) that was going with a group he had gone with for years. It turn out hat one of his group had some health issues that would prevent him from going and I would fill his spot.

Never having met this guy before who called himself KenFu, tells me he has a pass for the week at the Buffalo Chip and I can have it for  around $200 and I could ride out with him and a couple from Kentucky and a couple of riders from Ohio. Indianapolis is right in the middle so why don’t we all meet here and hit the road from my house in Indianapolis. Good idea Ken says.

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Thats me on the left, Jon then Gerry in the back, Jon’s friend in the front, Ken in the orange tank top, PK , Mike and Donna.

The day comes and its Thursday evening waiting for everyone to show up not knowing what to expect I was a little anxious and excited. Ken finally shows up about 9;00pm with a woman on the back of his bike. Donna he tells me is her name and she is not his girlfriend just a friend, ok well the pull out sofa doesn’t matter if you two don’t, but you have to double up on the bed I don’t have extra beds.

No worries we had a couple of beers and talked about the trip and how the other couple would be here in the morning and two guys from Ohio would be running late and would catch us on the road somewhere in Iowa.

I asked Ken a few times how much I owed him for the tickets to the campgrounds he said he would figure it out later. The next morning a little cool for August but while we pack last-minute items Mike and PK show up from Kentucky ready to go.

740 mile later we stopped for the night in Sioux City Iowa. Nice Roadway Inn with a bar in the lobby. After washing the road grime off our faces we all meet in the bar for dinner and drinks. After a couple of pizzas and several rounds of drinks PK is missing “Oh well she must have had her fill and went to the room to sleep” Mike says, She does that. After a couple more drinks Mike remembered he had the room key and Donna would have had to go to the front desk to get a key. he says he better go check on her. A few minutes later he comes back and says she is not in the room. Oh no Patron will do that. So the search begins for PK. There she is creating a puddle in the front entry to the hotel of her pizza and Patron. She is going to be hurting in the morning, I thought.

So every one was up early and ready to go last 400 miles and Sturgis here we come!40545_152078211471987_1269274_n 46185_152078138138661_480508_n

We arrived at the Buffalo Chip got moved into our camper and set up house for the week. Met our neighbor Charlie from North Dakota and decided we should go grocery shopping for supplies. You know how much can we carry on the bikes, Ken did have a trailer that would help. I think we spent about $300. food water and beer! it would be split between the 5 of us, and we ate good and drank plenty of beer. finally half way through the week Ken would tell me what I owed him for my share of the Camper that we had rented and my ticket for the Buffalo Chip and supplies. 

One thing about the Buffalo Chip is that after a good day of riding the Blackhills you can park at your camp and walk to the concerts inside the campground every night. Kid Rock, ZZ Top, Alice Cooper, Buck Cherry, Ozzy, Toby Keith and on and on. If you have never been to a concert outdoors with motorcycles (Harleys) in the front row you are missing out. In stead of applause its Harley Davidsons Revving to the limit. The sound of hundreds of Harleys is music to my ears!

The rest of the story is best told by seeing it. check out some of the highlights!

What can I say after that trip I went in 2011, 2012 with Cancer while I was on Chemo. things changed a little after that I thought it was time to expand my adventures beyond Sturgis and have been many new and exciting places since. I will share with you here in the future as I catch up to date on our travels I am only a few or at this point 4 years and 50,000 plus miles behind. see you down the road. By the way Carla never went back to Nicaragua.

 

Categories: Harley Davidson, Sturgis | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Life Is To Short

How time fly’s. The older we get the faster time goes by. Except for these long record-breaking winters in Indiana that last forever. Can you remember back in the day when you couldn’t wait for Christmas time? and it took forever to get here. Now you better start thinking about next Christmas early or it sneaks up on you and gone before you know it. This post wasn’t meant to be about Christmas it’s about ” TIME ” and how we all have one thing in common, that is we all have a limited amount no matter your background or status from the unemployed to the most wealthy and powerful you can’t buy it, “time that is” you can’t buy it and none of us know exactly how much we have left. The moral of the story is don’t put off doing the things you would like to do today because there’s no guarantee that you get time to do it later. The only reason that makes it happen is you and your decision to do it, “go for it”. I talk to a lot of people who have convinced themselves that they can’t ride out to Colorado or Sturgis. “Bull!!” I say I am not buying it sell it some place else. I promise if you can ride around here all day you can straighten it out and get somewhere. I will use my friend Diana as the example. She’s the hot blonde in the pictures.Diana  409665_239973176074599_461961214_n     Diana was worried and told me she didn’t think she could ride all the way to Sturgis. I told Diana if you can ride to Brown County then over to Bloomington and back home you can ride for an hour at a time. Diana agreed she could ride for an hour no problem. Do that with us 5 or 6 times and we will be half way to Sturgis. Then do it again and your there. After several of these conversations Diana had developed some faith in my reasoning. August was here before we knew it and it was time to go west. The plan was to meet some friends from out-of-town at the Baymont on Brookville rd. I can’t remember if the plan was to be ready at 7:30 or 8:00 am. There was 3 or 4 bikes not counting Diana and my bike, plus a truck and trailer pulling 2 bikes from Ohio. After a few wake up calls from our cell phones and the front desk, the party animals got up and started looking for the shower shoe that one of them had left in the lobby the night before. Regardless of the lost flip-flop we were late and Diana was getting a little antsy as was I. So off to a late start but all was good and 740 miles and 1 rain storm later at around 9:00 pm we arrived in Sioux City Iowa. It rained so hard cars and trucks pulled off the interstate!photo 1 Day 2 on the road bright and early. If you haven’t been west of Des Moines Iowa you should know that 88 or 87 octane fuel is all you can get so take some octane boost if you need to. What ever you do when the group stops for fuel do not refuse to put 88 octane in your bike, Greg! You have no choice! Or you can refuse so everybody can stop at the next exit and ride 8 miles off the interstate looking for better fuel only to discover that that’s it just like you were told 88 octane. Anyway glad we could satisfy your doubt in our experience, Greg! Off we go let’s get to Sturgis. Diana was riding like a champ and before you know it we are at the Worlds Smallest Biker Bar in New Underwood South Dakota just east of Sturgis. 300561_2241300923350_2083092935_n        409665_239973176074599_461961214_n      378962_239975052741078_642635590_n Soon after that we split off from Diana. She was going to stay in Custer while we stayed at the Buffalo Chip. After a couple of days we met up with Diana. Diana was overwhelmed by the Blackhills scenery and atmosphere in and around Sturgis. Diana told me she had been to many rallies around Daytona and Myrtle Beech and that she would never have to go back that she would come to Sturgis from now on. Diana never worried about riding that far again and when it was time to head back home I could not have had a better riding partner all the way back to Indy. So stop making excuses and let’s ride! 

Stay tuned for my 2010 Sturgis Rally adventure and the people I met.

Categories: Harley Davidson, Sturgis, Trip Planning | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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