A man on a motorcycle rides out of the darkness and into bright light.

Preparing for My Annual Scope

On the 18th of October, I will submit to my annual cystectomy. I believe this will be my 16th yearly check-up. Last week, Thursday, I decided what I really needed to be fully prepared for my annual scan was a sausage biscuit.

I am from the Midwest region of the United States and am a truck driver. What that means is that I have a solid love affair with the sausage biscuit and most anything that sandwiches meat between a bread product of some kind.

It was the need to be fully prepared for my appointment, and my belief that only the aforementioned biscuit would get me there led to my story and to the life lesson contained therein.

Endless miles and time to reflect

At 1 am on the first of October, I mounted my trusty Harley Davidson motorcycle and began my journey.

I rode west into Illinois and then south on I-57. It was only 44 degrees for the first 300 miles, and rural Illinois is farm country, so it was pitch black dark. No lights, no traffic for long stretches of interstate. Just endless miles and time to reflect on cancer and living. On the friends, I had made and the friends I had lost.

Mile after mile, I laughed and wept to myself and sped into the darkness.

Chasing that biscuit

By the time the sun came up, I was closing in on Hayti, Missouri, and it was time for fuel again. After 413 miles, and still, I was chasing that biscuit.

What I was really doing was losing my demons. When I am on my bike, there is no room for worry about recurrence and scope results. To be honest, the biggest concern in the country is that darkness is hitting a deer that might feel inclined to wander onto the roadway.

106 miles left to go

I filled my tank, used the washroom, and had a quick energy drink. I call it "Jitter Juice," and my wife teases me about a possible addiction to it.

Pulling back onto the interstate, I shifted my way through all 6 gears and locked the cruise control in at 75 miles per hour. I had 106 miles left to go.

An impending heartbreak

North on Rt. 51 for 8 miles, and I arrived at the Millington, Tennessee, BP truck plaza. Easing off the throttle and leaning a bit to the right, I took the Millington off-ramp.

As I walked inside, I could sense the impending heartbreak. The kitchen was gone, replaced by several of those frozen drink machines. The man stocking the coolers explained that the station had been sold years ago and that the lady who made the biscuits had retired.

Having ridden 518 miles in 8.25 hours for a breakfast sandwich, only to be left wanting, I did the only logical thing left to do. I climbed back on the bike and rode home.

Peace of mind

In all, I rode 1056 miles in just over 16 hours. What I really did was prepare myself for my annual scope and whatever that holds.

All of us, who have had a cancer diagnosis, treatment, and a follow-up plan for monitoring our health, face this time just before our check-ups. It is stressful and challenging. I heartily recommend finding a personal ritual that allows you to put things in perspective and gives you some peace of mind. Admittedly my method may not be for everyone. But riding motorcycles long distances over a relatively short period brings me peace of mind and a clear focus.

On October 18th, I will have my scope, and then I will go for a ride.

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