VIDEO: Cancer Survivor Rides With Her Cycling Idols
Cynthia Giorgio contributed to this report.
Krista Cochran, 36, wasn’t supposed to get a recurrence of breast cancer. After a double mastectomy five years ago, she was hoping to participate in the “Tour De Pink” a three-day, 220-mile bicycle ride from Pennsylvania to DC in late September to celebrate five years of being cancer-free.
Then, earlier this year she got the news that the same cancer that hit five years ago had returned to a localized area. Her oncology team at Anne Arundel Medical Center told her she’d under surgery (again), chemotherapy (again) and radiation treatment (again).
Before the recurrence, Cochran entered a contest with Giant Bicycle, which asked cancer survivors to submit designs for a bicycle that would be custom made. A graphic designer by trade, Cochran entered, but did not win the grand prize. However, as a top finisher, she got a custom-fitted bicycle built just for her.
Giant sent her to Parvilla Cycles and Multisport in Edgewater to pick up the bike. There she met Parvilla owner Stu Waring who not only fitted her for the bike, but also helped the married mom of two to get started with a training program.
More after the video.
Krista’s husband Ron rode the Tour De Pink last year. It was a kind of celebration ride for Krista being four years cancer-free. At the end of the race, organizers got Krista on video promising to ride the race in 2012.
This year, Krista was in the middle of treatment for the recurrence when she got to Parvilla and started training. Through treatments, she would show up for indoor workouts and outdoor rides through South County. Some nights she was exhausted or suffered through with radiation burns, but she always wanted to try to ride her bike and do something that wasn’t “about the cancer.”
As she continued training, Waring admired her tenacity and wanted to put together something nice. He arranged a private ride with the ABRT (Annapolis Bicycle Racing Team), which Parvilla sponsors. The women of the team include:
- Kati Giles (Solomons Island)
- Sue McQuiston (Baltimore)
- Sara Clafferty (Baltimore)
- Ainhoa Perez-Diez (Rockville), and
- Janey Olney (Baltimore)
The team readily agreed to the ride, even though it is the middle of their racing season. Sara Clafferty said the ride meant a lot to her because her mom passed away from cancer and was the same kind of patient as Krista.
“I remember we went on vacation in the middle of her treatment and we had to stop at a hospital in Salt Lake City for her to get chemotherapy,” Clafferty said before the ride. “She didn’t want cancer to get in the way of her life.”
Also on the trip were top pro Laura Van Gilder, in town to negotiate a cyclo-cross event space.
“I cyberstalk you,” Cochran said on meeting Van Gilder and the team. There was no getting the smile off of Cochran’s face as she talked with the female athletes she so admires.
Finally, cyclist Ace McDermott’s wife Tina stopped by to also participate after hearing Cochran’s story. McDermott lost her sister to breast cancer last year. She said that they had taken a trip to the beach in New Jersey at this time last year before the cancer got worse and eventually took her life.
Cochran started the ride by apologizing, saying that as a rider she was too slow for the others. She didn’t want to slow everyone down.
Cochran quickly got assurances that the ride would go at a comfortable pace, and that everyone was there to support her—that they often like to have rides that weren’t all about speed.
The course was about 18 miles, from Parvilla’s store to Harwood, then circling around on Queen Anne Bridge Road in Davidsonville to Central Avenue then back to Edgewater to end at Kahve Cafe at South River Colony Main Street. There, owner Joe Valentino treated the crew to lunch.
During lunch, the cyclists all had a chance to talk. They gave Cochran advice about her training, and told her that above all, she should enjoy the ride.
Cochran said that she figures the second day, the 90-mile leg of the race, will be the toughest. If she can make it through that, she’ll make it all the way.
After lunch Stu’s wife Christine Waring presented Cochran with a few more treats that had been prearranged. Cochran got a couple of gift certificates for facials and a massage as well as an extra certificate for her husband Ron so that they could both get a massage.
In addition, Cochran will get the opportunity to design a cycling kit—a jersey and shorts—from the Pactimo company. They’ll manufacture the clothing and it will be sold at Parvilla Cycles and Multisport and online at the Pactimo website.
“Krista’s story is so inspiring.” Stu said. “She deserves this day and everything that goes with it. She did not ask for it. I get very emotional when I think about her story. She is so wonderful. She has an energy that is catching. She has gone through this twice now and you would never know it.”
Contribute to the Cochran’s team, Cycling for Life, by visiting the Tour De Pink website, they are the number one team right now, but still $15,000 shy of their goal of $40K.