On August 6, two strangers clad in pink rolled into town. They were passing through seeking respite for the night, before continuing their voyage of 1,825 miles to participate in the Three Day Walk event. Their purpose in biking across the country, from Beaverton, Ore. to St. Paul, Minn. is a challenge they view as the required mindset needed to battle cancer. To them, the individual plaintive victory is not to be in remission but for eradication of cancer altogether.
“Cancer is sneaky. It will be dormant with you being in remission for years, then it will pop up as a different type of cancer or in a different part of your body,” Bob Sherrill, a cancer survivor and self-proclaimed cancer warrior, said. “As long as there is cancer we will always have to be vigil. I'm gonna fight until we kill it…I owe it to the 3.5 million women and men who have breast cancer and the 40 thousand that will die next year if we don't find a cure.”
Bob Sherrill and Pablo Jimenez have peddled their way across the midwest, being fueled by their goal to reach the Susan G. Komen Three Day Walk event in support of finding a cure for breast cancer.
Sherrill, who will be turning 68 on September 2, has made radical changes in his life following his diagnosis with cancer. Now in remission, he still struggles with the loss of his independence and control over his life. Starting a ‘Bike Ministry’ in his backyard to build bikes for foster youth and other children in tough situations, Sherrill was going to tackle this journey alone -- but that was before meeting his road partner, Jimenez.
“Pablo came about a year ago to help rebuild bikes,” Sherrill said. “And when I started talking about doing this, he told me he would go with me. He wanted to do it together.”
Jimenez, a 16-year-old from Beaverton, Oregon, said he likes to rebuilt bikes and was overwhelmed with Sherrill’s dedication to this cause. Volunteering to give up his summer to go with Sherrill has been a decision he hasn’t regretted once.
“I think this trip has shaped me, because I feel like I’m completing a piece to the big puzzle of finding a cure.” Jimenez said. “I’m doing this for the people I love, like my two sisters and my mother.”
Sherrill and his wife are funding this trip themselves, which is costly given the wear and tear of the bikes and bodies of the cyclists -- something they say is a necessary expense for a greater good.
“Every dime we raise is going to cancer research, that's how important it is,” Sherrill said. “My grandmother used to say, ‘The best place to lead, is from in front.’ Sometimes you have to show people how committed you are, not just talk about it.”
On July 20, the day they left their city of Beaverton, OR. they had a nice 'bon voyage.' The mayor, Denny Doyle, made a proclamation announcing that day to now be Breast Cancer Awareness Day, to enhance good health and well-being of all residents of the city.
Sherrill feels he is reclaiming some of what cancer has stolen from him, in the midst of moments on the road.
“When we came over the continental divide, coming down the side, doing almost 40 miles per hour on my racing bike, with the thin tires, I thought to myself, ‘This is the closes I have been to control in my life for years,” Sherrill said. “...Once you have cancer, your life never goes back to the way it was.”
Sherrill suggests all people come out and attend one of the Susan G. Komen Three Day Walks, especially those who have not been affected by cancer so that they can witness the challenges of those who do -- to lend a helping hand to those who feel like they are going through the fight alone.
“You see people who have gone through cancer and see the terrible things it has done to their lives, but you also see that they are out their fighting,” Sherrill said. “This is my family now, the people who have endured cancer and fight on.”
Before even completing his current mission, Sherrill is planning a ride to Washington DC to speak to legislation for next year.
“We are planning on having a six-person team. We will be riding from Beaverton to Washington DC. to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research along the way. ” Sherrill said. "When we get there we will meet with legislators, asking them to earmark more money for breast cancer research. ”
Sherrill dedication seems to be augmented each day on the road with a strong attitude and humorous anecdotes. They have a website to follow along as they make their way to and from the Three Day Walk event, showing the impact they continue to make. Link is as followed:
“A world without breast cancer has to be chosen,” said Sherrill.