Norton Cancer Institute holds annual Bike to Beat Cancer
Norton Cancer Institute is hosting its eighth annual Bike to Beat Cancer today. The one-day cycling event supports cancer research, programs and services. For survivors like Bonnie Armstrong, it means never giving up.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Norton Cancer Institute is holding its eighth annual Bike to Beat Cancer Saturday. The one-day cycling event supports cancer research, programs and services. For survivors like Bonnie Armstrong, it means never giving up.
Standing a little more than five feet tall, you wouldn't know by Armstrong's big, bubbly personality that she's survived cancer not once, but twice.
"He said, 'everything was fine except we had one disturbing finding: you have uterine cancer' and all of a sudden, birds started chirping and I really couldn't hear anything else he had to say," Armstrong said.
Her journey began in 1989. She underwent a complete hysterectomy. Years later, in 2004, she found out she had colon cancer after a second colonoscopy. "I did not know at the time, however, there is a connection between uterine cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer. If you've had one, you're more likely to have one or both of the other," Armstrong said.
Years had passed and she did some research. "I probably had been the cause of both of my cancers with my lifestyle habits," Armstrong said. "I learned that obesity is one of the greatest risk factors for most of the cancers that we have and I had gotten up to 246 pounds."
It was time for a lifestyle change. She went to a weight loss treatment facility in North Carolina. She now exercises six days a week for two hours a day. "I do Zumba, I like to get my groove on."
This year, she and her husband, who is also a cancer survivor, are riding in their fifth Bike to Beat Cancer along with about 800 others.
After feeling inspired at a recent Iron Man competition, she's stepping up her game.
"We were down on Fourth Street Live at 11 o'clock at night when people who were non-athletes, first-timers, people who had some physical disabilities, people who were heavier than me, were coming in after having been out since 8:30 that morning. I was so amazed and had so much respect for the level of discipline and commitment these folks had to have the whole year before to get ready for this event," Armstrong said.
"I said, 'if they can do 126 miles on a bike, three miles swimming, 26 miles running, I can at least step up to 100 miles on a bike for cancer, to support cancer research and cancer programs.' God enabled the folks at the Norton Cancer Institute to heal me, to save me and I can at least give back by raising some money and making this ride. So, I'm ready for it."
Armstrong uses her journey to motivate others.
"You have some women in theirs 40s, in their 50s, in their 60s coming in and they're very intimidated and they'll get in the back of the class, get frustrated and get ready to leave. I will meet folks at the door. I said, 'give it five more minutes. You're doing okay, you're doing fine.' I said, 'you came, that shows that you're ready to do this.You can do this. I know you can,'" Armstrong said.
She also does motivational speaking to women's groups.
"African American women have the worst health profile of all the groups. For some reason, African American women will take care of everybody else. Take everybody else to the doctor and then neglect themselves," Armstrong said.
She said it's about being an active participant in your health and smiling while doing it.
"I can't guarantee I won't get cancer again, but I can guarantee I'm working on my risk factors. The reason that I'm working on my risk factors: I'm worth it and God has told me I'm worth it and I'm encouraging others to know they're worth it too."
The 2016 Bike to Beat Cancer is Saturday. The main ride begins at 8 a.m. followed by the family ride at 10 a.m. The races start and end at Kosair Children's Medical Center-Brownsboro, located at 4910 Chamberlain Lane, followed by activities. Norton Cancer Institute's newest addition to Bike to Beat Cancer is the Celebration of Courage on the Friday evening before, which gives participants an opportunity to gather and celebrate before the ride with family games, food and live music.
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