HOW WE GOT HERE
(Jenny and Maria's story.)
Jenny and I are from a large, close Italian family. My parents had 5 girls in 5 years, and then a son a few years later. My memories of growing up are milieu of yelling, singing, laughing, fighting, and eating. Jenny was born in April of 1962 and I was born 10 months later. All of the sisters are close, but I have been fortunate to see Jenny frequently. Our children are the same ages and she would care for my children or I would care for hers while the other went away with her husband.
In many ways Jenny and I are very different. I have always enjoyed sports and competition, while Jenny endures running or walking just enough to stay fit. Jenny loves to cook and has a flair for entertaining and creating a warm and inviting home. She has a system for everything and delights in keeping things organized and edited. I live comfortably with clutter and would rather go for a bike ride than cook. The most important quality Jenny has is a unique gift of encouragement. A talk or visit with her leaves anyone feeling better and more able to handle whatever challenges she or he is experiencing.
Over the past several years my bike riding has become more serious and more successful. I have set several world records and compete frequently in ultra-endurance cycling events. I’ve also been involved in organizing running and cycling events in my community.
When Jenny was diagnosed in October with terminal brain cancer, I was preparing for a 24 hour world record attempt. After her diagnosis we were all grief stricken and shocked and all I wanted to do was to spend time with her and her family. My immediate reaction was to call off the world record attempt and focus on Jenny. It took only a few days though for me to feel a need to get back on the bike. We decided to go ahead with the record attempt and I successfully set a new women’s 24 hour record. During the 24 hours I thought about Jenny and the cancer with each pedal stroke.
Afterwards, the desire to do something about the disease that was stealing my sister’s life, drive and personality began to grow in me. All of my cycling and records, the recumbent bike I ride, my particular set of talents and skills, the pause I had taken in my counseling career….it seemed my whole life had brought me to this moment. I’m supposed to do something about this.
With my husband and sister’s encouragement, I entered the Race Across America, the ultimate 3000-mile endurance cycling race, to use as a platform to raise a million dollars for brain cancer research. My family, Jenny’s family and a couple of close friends have joined with me. We’ve found in Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, an organization that is as determined as we are to change the future for brain cancer patients as quickly as possible.