This Is Why - Brian Howles
As a prelude to Team I Hate Cancer’s 2019 Lobster Roll ride (which will take us from Philadelphia to Maine, exclusively on the power of our own legs), our esteemed leader and co-founder of TIHC, Mike Walsh, asked us to share some thoughts on why we hate cancer, people who have inspired us in this regard, etc. I could indeed write multiple pages detailing my personal experiences with loved-ones and friends touched by cancer, the list is long, but instead I was struck by the fact that there is hardly a person that I know, who hasn’t been affected by the disease. This in and of itself is, I’m sure unsurprising to many, yet beyond the mere fact that we all know someone affected either personally, or in an ancillary way, the real revelation came in reflecting on what this has resulted in, for me.
Suffering is a very base, human condition; its corollary is compassion, community and friendship. This is what Team I Hate Cancer is all about. The ubiquity of cancer is what makes the community that comes together to fight it, raise awareness for it and help others through it, so special. I for one, count myself so lucky to have developed amazing bonds with my fellow members of TIHC; we’ve shared countless laughs, serious discussions, beers, more Skratch Labs Hydration Mix than I can count (shameless sponsor plug!), six hour car rides, fundraisers, beers (oops, did I mention that already?), and collectively tens of thousands of miles on the bike. Now, not all of this was done in the name of cancer-hating, per se, but at the end of the day, the jerseys that we wear on our backs still say “Team I Hate Cancer.” It is our common denominator, the reason we came together in the first place and the reason why we continue to log countless miles, legs and lungs cursing us, with smiles on our faces.
Really, the Lobster Roll is just a distillation of our experience together, so far. It is an opportunity for us laugh, to sweat, to crack a beer at the end of our sixth 100 mile day, to eat as much food as we want (because we earned it?) and to create a shared experience that will bring us closer together as teammates, friends and humans. Raising funds to help those diagnosed with cancer and their families is our purpose and mission; one that is desperately important and vital. Yet equally important is the ability to share our message with others and to internalize that message ourselves; to foster empathy in our everyday interactions, to provide support to any who need it and to prioritize the things that are truly important in life.
Personally, I’m equal parts nervous and excited to spend six days and 600 miles on the bike with some of my closest friends. The unknown of how your body will react to such exertion is daunting, but knowing you aren’t alone in the endeavor, of being part of the team, the community, humanity, brings a quiet confidence, a peace of mind. And maybe, just maybe, that resonates with you too.