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  • Micheline Lemay

Tumbleweeds

To say I didn’t sleep much last night would have been an understatement. Scenarios were just rolling around like a tumbleweed on a windy desert day. Back in 2005 me and 2 super rad woman I know jumped on our makeshift road bikes and biked across the USA. One day - I can’t quite remember where we were maybe a desert in Arizona it was sooooo windy the sand was blasting us. Any exposed skin was getting blasted. We found a small broken down shack to hide behind and shelter us from the storm. As we hunched down looking at each other laughing and screaming tumbleweeds we’re just flying by the structure. Some were even hitting it. That’s what I had going on in my head.


It was 8:30am and I had my phone with me waiting for the doctor to call. Since it was 8:30 it was also the time that I talked with my soul sister Christine. Give or take 15 min on either end we always have a daily check in. We became friends when we worked at Mountain River School together. A mutual friend of ours Evan found out that we were going to work together and he was like oh boy- I think you guys are going to become the best of friends- and boy was he right. This woman is truly a soul sister. Her heart is as big as the universe. We can talk about ANYTHING and everything. Simple or complex. Silly or serious. 3D or 5D. I am so blessed to have her in my life. So as usual 8:36am the phone rings. It’s Christine. Of course she was following my updates throughout but this conversation was going to be in the serious category. Saying it out loud is hard- “dude I have f@*#ing cancer. I just can’t believe it.“ I still didn’t really know what it meant but wow- that’s a powerful word. She holds space for me and lets me cry and laugh and process. So what are you going to do today to feel good? I’m gonna plan out my ride- I wanted to MTB ride 50 miles of single track before shoulder surgery in Sept. but looks like the universe had a different plan for me- but I will not let that get taken away from me- no way!


Dr. Harlow called me and we talked about more details of what they found out from the initial pathology report. It was a 1.5cm carcinoma ductal in situ invasive cancer. What we knew now was we can do a lumpectomy and will have to do radiation after. We still needed to wait for the results to find out if it’s hormone receptive to know about chemo. Most breast cancers are hormone receptive so mines gotta be…. I can handle this I thought. Surgery is nothing (after 5 knee surgery’s a small piece of my boob will be a breeze) and radiation is logistically taxing but no problem… I was wrapping my head around it. I got this. I got this.


Besides the thought of having to look my beautiful children in the eye and tell them I have cancer I was feeling so much emotion around what would happen with camp- is this going to effect my attendance at camp? Radiation was going to be for 6 weeks, 5 days a week- but what if I got the last appointment of the day? I can figure this out. That day I had camp so I was going to have to talk to Taylor (my Rugged co-founder) and tell him what is going on. As camp was coming to an end we were finishing up at Rugged Rock- I hear my phone ring. It’s Dr. Harlow - he explains that we have found out more information about the tumor- it’s a triple negative tumor which essentially means that it isn’t associated to a hormone and hormone therapy can’t be my systemic treatment, I am going to have to do chemotherapy. I moved away from the kids and sat on the ground. I tried hard to keep the tears from surfacing but this was some tough news. We discussed different options and orders of treatment and planned to talk again tomorrow. This just changed the discussion I was going to have to have with Taylor about Camp- big time.


All the kids headed out and Taylor and I sat on the picnic table at Thompson Park. I looked across the table and told him the news- we both just sat silent for a minute- not what either of us thought we were going to be discussing. The news I just heard was so raw too that I was emotional- Taylor was so thoughtful, kind, patient and caring. Mich you gotta take care of yourself. We will figure this out. I know I am going to do the best I can- it’s just the uncertainty of what that is going to look like.


Despite the number of medical phone calls that came in the past two days and the number of appointments and meetings looming my focus was on accomplishing my 50 mile MTB ride. Tomorrow was the day! I got home, made dinner, and started getting my stuff all lined up. Snacks, supplements, my outfit picked out, clean my bike. I was excited!!


I also had to make a few tough phone calls letting my mom, dad and siblings know, and some of my closest girlfriends. How do you start such a conversation? To put into words the uniqueness of each conversation is difficult ~ but it really puts things in perspective real quick when you have to face and share tough news. I was emotionally drained. Time for bed.


I jumped out of bed bright and early just like I did all winter psyched to go skinning up the mountain and catch the sunrise. I have time to sit and have coffee and chat with Igor. I pack up the mindful mobile, kiss my kids and head out on my journey.






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