Why I PMC - Kaden Kopko

Bill Alfano's picture
Bill Alfano

Why I PMC - Kaden Kopko

Guest Blog by Kaden Kopko

My name is Kaden, I am 16 years old. Last year I rode the Pan-Mass challenge with my dad (Timothy) and a team from his work (Team Eisai - Powered by FLO's Ride). It was one the best experiences I have even had! Apart from being a great way to meet fellow bikers and to push yourself physically, it is a eye-opening experience to how much PMC affects cancer research.

A year before I signed up for the PMC, my Dad rode it, he came back gushing with stories and filled with joy about the work that Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the PMC do for cancer. I wanted to be part of that. So last year I began my journey to the start line. It was not just a physical journey, but an emotional, and mental one as well. As soon as I bought my bike, the race was on. I began small, as all riders, low miles high enthusiasm. And as my miles grew so did my enthusiasm. I read stories of PMC, cancer survivors, and all those who were affected by this ride. I trained harder. But became more then just for people who I did not know, it became personal. My grandmother and grandfather both had died of lung cancer when I was young. Soon after, one of my friends was diagnosed with cancer as well. My purpose became more important, the end of cancer was dear to me and my dad. So when I began the PMC journey I was determined to do my part in keeping parents, friends and families together and not torn apart by the words “you have cancer.”

When the time came to make the trip to Massachusetts for the ride, I was excited and ready. The opening ceremonies hit home and I knew this was a great cause I rode for. The next day at the starting line, I was nervous. I was about to start on the longest single day ride I had even done. However, I was determined to ride it for my family and friend who have had cancer. This ride would teach me more about the struggle of cancer then any book or paper even could. As I pushed though the miles, dropping my Dad almost immediately, I meditated on how the cancer patients must feel in their situation. I learned my first lesson. Suddenly my pain, hurt, weariness, flew out the window and I pushed on, knowing that my fatigue was nothing compared to the pain cancer causes to so many. As the day wore on, I caught up with some of my other team members, it was a wonderful relief, I had been riding by myself most of the day. Finding my teammates taught me another wonderful lesson, cancer cannot be fought alone. It requires doctors, families, friends and loved ones all coming together to encourage the patient and fight the battle together. When I finished the first day, I was pleased with what I had accomplish, as well I should be. But I  was more pleased with why I was riding and the lessons I had learned. But my lessons were not over.

The second day started much like the first, another long bike ride. But half way through my third and final lesson came in the form of a teammate. One of the slower less prepared people on the team was struggling and one of the teammates dropped down beside them and began to encourage them, telling them how close the rest stop was, how well they were doing. This taught me the lesson of hope. Because one teammate encouraged and gave hope to the tired rider they were able to make it through the day. Just like that teammate needed encouragement and hope, cancer patients and those affected cannot survive the journey with out hope.

On finishing the ride I was tired, sore and worn out, but I was happy, I was proud and I was changed. this year, I can’t wait to see what lessons PMC will teach me and I am looking forward to beating cancer, one mile at a time. That is why I PMC.