How Biking Saved Breast Cancer Survivors

The role cycling played in three breast cancer survivors’ lives

During breast cancer awareness month, Asheville Bicycle Company wants to celebrate survivors. Read and be encouraged by the stories of three breast cancer survivors who found out through cycling just how strong they actually are. We all know cycling is good for our health, but these breast cancer survivors showcase just how much it can change a person’s life. How has cycling made YOU braver?

Lisa Frank's story of how cycling helped fight breast cancer

Lisa Frank’s Story

Lisa Frank was an avid cyclist with a heart for charity when she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer shortly after completing the 1997 AIDS ride. Frank’s former participation in the AIDS ride led her to found the Tour de Pink, a ride to raise support and awareness for breast cancer survivors. The ride started small in 2004 – one location with only six riders – and Frank was waylaid from participating by a double mastectomy shortly before the ride. However, the ride only grew from there. The Tour de Pink is now held in three regions of the country and has a great number of passionate supporters.

Bike riding has remained a motivating and life saving part of Frank’s ride. It was a bike crash injury that wouldn’t heal a few years ago that led to the discovery that Frank’s cancer had metastasized. Continued treatments have kept Frank off her bike, but they haven’t kept her away from the Tour de Pink. Frank still travels to support, encourage and cheer on riders during the three day event. She’s committed to helping women discover their strength and ability to help others.

Suzanne Merritt's story of how cycling helped her fight breast cancerSuzanne Merritt’s Story

Suzanne Merritt was a fitness professional, but just a recreational rider, when a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2011 changed the course of her life. Soon after that diagnosis, a friend challenged Merritt to participate in the Pan-Mass Challenge, a 192 mile race in support of cancer research. 2012 was spent receiving aggressive chemo, a double mastectomy, and reconstructive surgery – but in 2013 the breast cancer survivor decided it was time to compete. Having only three months to train for the event, she was unsure if she’d even be able to finish. However, she did reach that finish line – as well as a discovery as to just how strong she is. Merritt went on to participate in the race in 2014 and 2015 as well, logging 1,000 miles of training in just one year. While riding has helped Merritt discover her strength, it has also benefited others greatly. In 2015 Merritt raised over $14,000 for cancer research!

Hel Parkes' story of how cycling helped her fight cancerHel Parkes’ Story

Hel Parkes never considered herself to be that athletic before her breast and bowel cancer diagnoses. These diagnoses came after her 40th birthday, and stirred a determination in Parkes to find a way to alleviate stress and anxiety. Her first activity she turned to, however, was not cycling – it was something much more unexpected. Desiring to challenge her fears as well as her strength, Parkes took up flying trapeze. Once she felt she had mastered this activity, she then looked for another challenge. She turned to a family sport – mountain biking – and soon found herself participating in local clubs, rides and races. Parkes has even recently taken up road and track cycling. She has created a cycling club called the Dirty Janes to encourage other women to take up cycling in her native Australia. Parkes wants other women to discover they’re strong enough to fight through the pain, and to discover the energy that comes when you do.

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