I write this to seek your help in overcoming my life’s biggest challenge. In March of 2015, shortly after a marathon run, I was diagnosed with a faulty aortic valve. I had open heart surgery and when I failed to recover as expected, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. I was devastated to learn that I needed a stem cell transplant. For the second time in eight months I gathered my family and updated my will.
Many of you know that Deborah and I lived a life of our own design. I traded my ambitions for my passions, and made that stuff we do half our waking hours more than a job or career. It was costly in so many ways, but my only regret was not having done it sooner. The result was a journey through the human experience, sometimes glorious, sometimes painful. Leaving behind a conventional lifestyle, we sought to experience the world on foot, by bicycle, or in our fabulous solar-powered Airstream. Sometimes we went for months. Our goal was to redefine the notion of how to spend one’s life, and we did it.
August 3, 2016
Thank you all! I have completed my treatments and am far into my recovery. As we all know, I am beating the odds just to be here, and this whole thing could go south any day, but I am diligently working to get my life back. Your help during the time when NO assistance was available, when I was tethered to IVs and hospitals with very little hope of a decent outcome, that meant more than I can possibly communicate. And as I said before, my intention is to do more than just be alive. THANK YOU.
April 13, 2016
On April 10th, I managed to force myself and my old bike through the short course at the Eroica California vintage bike ride in the hills above Paso Robles. www.eroicacalifornia.com
It had been three weeks of constant challenge against the odds (check earlier posts), even right to the starting gate. Waiting next in line to get my ride book stamped and take off, I noticed that my old front Panaracer tire had blown out a sidewall. A big aneurysym just cleared the forks on the left side with the broken tire sidewall threads wacking the fork on each revolution. Repairs from last night had yet to be road tested: the problematic axle nuts, the crank cotter pins, the weak seat post, and now this. Nausea, spinning head from my morning drugs — I felt the least healthiest I have ever been in my life, like a train wreck without even yet leaving the station. Looking back at the photos, I look like a wreck. Photos at www.shaunwillson.com. Check my blog and Facebook link.
So I figured I would get my ride card stamped, ride under the starting banner, maybe make a mile and come back. I had given this gig all the energy and time I had left and I was OK just calling it good. Mentally and physically I was numb as a stone. But after a mile the tire didn’t blow. After the first long hill, the crank held. So I figured the worst case scenario, a tire blowing on a long downhill and me hitting the pavement at 30 mph, and I realized that it still wouldn’t be as bad as open heart surgery or three rounds of chemotherapy, so I said to hell with it and rode until something disintegrated. And nothing did, other than my legs.
The ride itself was beautiful; steeply rolling hills through olive orchards and vineyards, classic pastoral stuff. Glorious and meticulously maintained vintage machines stretched out in lines in front and behind me. The odd rider’s group on the roadside every mile making repairs. (I never did!) I cannot imagine trying any harder to get to and through this event, making this dream come true. It was an inspiration to be part of it in any sense, much less finishing a route.
Thank you to all family and friends who helped fix, patch, and cajole my bicycle and my body through this thing. If I still didn’t feel so sick I would be walking in the clouds right now, so forgive me for this brief post about an incredibly important and epic event from my bucket list.
And tomorrow morning it is back to the doctor, and I will never tell him a thing.
Photo Galleries (1)
March 31, 2016
Shaun! You are my Hero! Sending you respectful white light & seeing you at your finish line on April 10th! Take great care of yourself, May the miracle of mindfulness & 100% intention be with you! With respect, Tran :-)))
Tran My Luong
February 26, 2016
I can just see you, above the city, pedaling the beautiful trails already logged into your memories from those previous treks, bike on !!
February 18, 2016
Deborah and Shaun, You are both in my prayers daily! My father went through a stem cell transplant last year. He is back working full time at the age of 69. You can do this! So... Let's kick cancer's butt!!