Michy Lemay is an influencer. Not because she’s got a bajillion followers or gets paid to promote products or anything else that jives with the modern connotations of that word. But In the most literal sense, she influences kids and pretty much anyone who comes into her orbit through her camps, her coaching and her shamelessly positive outlook on life.
Michy’s mission to spread positivity and a message of mindfulness took an interesting turn earlier this year when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Michy looked at cancer as just another way to share her message, with the added benefit of raising awareness of the prevalence of breast cancer at any age.
We had the opportunity to join Michy for a ride as she closed out her treatment. Yep, you read that right, as she closed out her treatment. Seemed only fitting since she started her cancer journey with a 50-mile mountain bike ride. 50 freakin’ miles!
As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we’re honored to share these images with you along with some words from Michy herself, describing her journey and what we all can learn from it. Michy: you truly are an inspiration and it’s our pleasure to bring your message to the MTB masses!
Mountain biking has been my salvation throughout the entirety of my treatment. For some, it’s that carrot on the end of the stick that motivates us to recover. For me it was a driving force and major aid in helping me maintain my health throughout. When I found out I had cancer, I decided to ride 50 miles of single track the next day. (Editor’s note: With ~6,000 vertical feet of climbing!)
As soon as I could ride after surgery (my first of two surgeries) I was right back out there until I started chemo.
My goal after each chemo session was to get back on my bike as soon as I could. It was not only a litmus test that allowed me to gauge my current level of depletion, but it also brought me a sense of normalcy and joy during a really challenging time.
I maintained my normal work schedule at the summer adventure camp that I own and operate (Rugged Adventures, @ruggedadventuresvt) where I take kids mountain biking several times a week. Never missed a day, and I attribute this to not just the physical health and fitness I gained through mountain biking, but to the emotional well being I attained through time spent in the woods on my bicycle.
At the beginning of my last three week chemotherapy cycle, I made the decision to ride every day of the cycle, including the day that I got my six-hour chemo treatment. I called it the Sweaty Bald Eagle Chemo Bike Challenge: 21 consecutive days of riding, and even on my toughest days I did it. I rode a total of 199.97 miles throughout the 21 days. I rode enough during my treatment to maintain almost all of my “local legends” on Strava (Editor’s note:no small feat on some of the most popular @stowetrails in Vermont!)
This commitment to riding consistently throughout the course of my treatment led to a deeper understanding of mindfulness and the importance of being in the moment, which in turn led me to starting my blog, Michy’s Mindfulness Mission
Finally, I’d like to remind everyone to get their annual exams, please don’t put it off! We’re all capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for; we can all do tough things! @darntoughsocks #iamdarntough #youaredarntough #wearedarntough
Photos by Darren Benz