Erin isn’t riding a bike

Often, when I meet people, they ask me what it’s like to have a life that’s so public. They’ll ask me if it’s weird to have you know so much about it. Usually I smile and say the same thing. It’s not so weird, you only know what I tell you. There have been things, over the years, that are too private, or things that concern people i know who aren’t bloggers and don’t want to be bloggers, and don’t want me to tell you things about them – things that are their stories, not mine. The last two months have been like that. My sister Erin has been going through something, and the family has been playing it cool, helping her to keep it private until she was ready to be public.

quebec 2016-07-14

Erin’s done the rally a bunch of times. She did it before me, actually – she wrote a great blog post about it here. She’s been a Team Leader, and she was great at it. Erin, like almost everyone who experiences it, loves the Rally.  It’s been a few years since she’s ridden it, she’s got a business and she was newly married and Hank’s a teenager. (I won’t say anything more about that, but if you’ve ever raised one, you know that some summers, you just don’t leave a teenager in your house while you ride your bike to Montreal.) This year was going to be her year, but it’s not.

coburg 2016-07-14

Two months ago, Erin was diagnosed with breast cancer – or, as she so eloquently put it, her left breast is a homicidal maniac trying to kill her. She’s had surgery, with really great results (if you only care about cancer, and not really breasts) and there’s more treatment ahead of her. What, we’re just not sure yet, but the upshot is that my wild and crazy sister is spending this summer lying around (not her thing) not able to do much (not her thing) and wearing comfortable, but not very sexy bras. (Also, not her thing.) We’re pretty sure she’s going to be okay. She’s been very brave, and very fierce and I’m unbelievably proud of her.

erinsmaniac 2016-07-14

I also feel terrible. I feel bad about any fun I have, knowing she’s not having much. I feel guilty out on my bike, riding along without her. Erin wouldn’t ever want me to feel that way (except maybe a little. She’s told me that if she becomes bald I have to shave my head in support, and it has been more than suggested that I get matching radiation tattoos. I guess I don’t feel bad enough about it all though – because I’m not gonna. She’s not that sick.)  Mostly what I feel bad about is what being sick is taking from her. For starters, she doesn’t get to keep all her body parts, and that’s a big deal, but also it’s taking a lot of her choices right now. Things she can’t do because she’s not well enough yet, places she can’t go because she has to be here for treatment and appointments. She didn’t get to dance at Megan’s wedding, and she isn’t going be able to raise money for a cause she adores on a year when the Rally really needs it, and I’ll ride into Montreal without her by my side.

Erin’s been graceful about all of that. She’s been graceful about the whole thing, actually. Stuff keeps happening that would have me raving, and I’ll look at her and think, that’s it. She’s absolutely going to snap. This is it – but then she doesn’t. She cries, she’s sad, and then she quite simply does what she has to do. She’s accepted that things are going to be crap for a while, and then they’re going to be good again. Different but good. This lousy scene is probably only getting a chunk of breast and one summer from her – and she’ll get her choices back, and we can ride together again.

I’m going to miss her, but I guess I’m going to have to do it for the both of us. So I will.

erinandiriding 2016-07-14

Without tattoos.



245 thoughts on “Erin isn’t riding a bike

  1. Dear Erin,
    I’m so sorry to hear your news. On the plus side, you have an amazing sister to help you through this (so did I) and you will find a whole new community of amazing women to support you through this craptastic experience. It’s OK to scream and cry and rage at the unfairness of it all, but the blog is with you and you will come through it with flying colors.

  2. Bear hugs to your sister and your family. Tough times but she has an amazing family supporting her. She’ll do Great and so will you at the rally. What can we do to help, besides the donation to the rally, of course?

  3. Cancer sucks.

    My mother was a 2x breast cancer survivor, and she never let it get her down. Even when her wig just plopped off her head onto the floor at a business gathering. She just picked it up, and put it back on her head. That bloody wig is on cock-eyed in every picture I have of her when my Eldest – her first grandchild – was born. Now that she is gone (at age 90)i it makes me smile to remember.

    Strength to Erin and your family.

  4. Make Erin a team member. Have her set a fund raising goal and we’ll help her participate in the rally the best way she can this year. Next year, we expect the blood, sweat and tears of riding the bike. I have a feeling there’s already been plenty of blood sweat and tears fighting the cancer. Side note, I have a sister-in-law that has life ending throat cancer. We do all we can to try and make her feel fullfilled. We can do that for your sis too.

    • You took the words right off of my page. (“Out of my mouth” doesn’t work in this mode.) I’d love to help Erin participate in the rally even while she can’t ride.

    • Yes! Please do this Stephanie! We’ll sponsor her too! 🙂 Best wishes for a full recovery Erin. Different cancer, but so far so good for me. It’ll be three years on Sept. 13 since the end of treatment for me. And I’m hoping my bloodwork will be “pristine” as my oncologist has said so far. I have a wee little tattoo up higher than yours. It looks like a tiny blue dot. I asked for a flower when the tech was doing it, and she said it is a flower, but you need a magnifying glass to see it. 🙂 Wishing you well in this journey. It isn’t easy, but I know you can do it too.

    • Yes! But only if Erin would want it this way. There’s no pressure that she actually ride in the rally next July. If she requires treatment(s) after surgery, it could take a while for Erin’s energy to return to normal levels, so training next spring might be more than she could handle (it’s hard enough for someone who isn’t still recovering!). Patience, patience, patience.

      • I nominate Erin for Spirit of the Ride. Her battle is very similar to the battle of the PWA clients. If Erin will agree, please set up a page for her so that we can support her. (I have to click the sunglasses — that seems to suit Erin.)

  5. I have been there, twice, and my heart goes out to anyone who has to face this disease. You and your sister are in my thoughts and prayers. And yes, she will do what needs to do because really what choice do we have, but to hold our chins up and face what life presents to us.

    • I’m a two-timer too! My life is changed, maybe just different than before. However, it just keeps going. Kindness and compassion are more important to me than ever before.

  6. Long-time lurker coming out of the shadows, here – sending prayers and good energy your sister’s way! I’m experiencing a sudden urge to knit her something, but, considering where I am, at the moment, I’m guessing just about everybody here does.

  7. Best wishes to your sister….she can get a new breast…or not….but she’ll be alive. Alive and with you is what counts. I know.

  8. You know there are patterns to knit a breast so she continues to look fabulous? I’m thinking a yarn so soft you can’t stop petting it……

  9. Sorry to hear this, it’s just awful news. I’m guessing that as your sister, Erin will have enough determination and bloody-mindedness to take this bastard down.

  10. Your post is beautiful. Your relationship with your sister is beautiful. The strength of your relationship will see you both through. Reading your post makes me wish I had a sister. Keep your pecker up – you can do this, Erin, especially with Steph by your side.

    • Ha! Julie-in-in, girls don’t have peckers, my 2 year old granddaughter told me so the other day, boys do. We had quite the conversation about it.

  11. Hoping it was caught early and that it isn’t one of the aggressive strains. I’ve had breast cancer two different times– and depending on your standards am fine now. Wishing you both well.

  12. All best wishes to Erin, and to her extended family. May you all come through this with flying colours! (canadian spelling on purpose just for you)

  13. Dear Erin,
    Thanks for sharing this journey with us. Wishing you peace, patience and flashes of joy during your treatment.

  14. I just cussed a blue streak on Erin’s behalf. I have a friend going through the same thing. Prayers for Erin and Hank especially, but also for you and the rest of your family.
    The Blog is with you Stephanie.
    hugs from afar.

  15. Erin, you are so brave! I’m sorry this is happening to you, but it’s clear that you’re the kind of person who doesn’t sit around feeling sorry for herself when big challenges drop themselves into your life. This is a big challenge, but I know you will use it to stretch yourself and grow, while becoming even closer to your amazing family. They are all there for you, and so is the Blog.

    Blessings of love and healing,

  16. Lived through it with my sister and my mom’s sister, had my (other kind) and now momma has a rare (fairly treatable) blood cancer! My daughter likes to say my side got all the cancers but dad’s side got all the kinds of crazy! Choose your poison love your family and live life! You are doing great Erin and Steph!!

  17. Your wonderful sister is in my prayers. Having fought my own battle with cancer two years ago, I know how alone one can feel with such a horrible disease. My own sister gave me a plaque that says it all:
    “WHOEVER SAID WINNING ISN’T EVERYTHING NEVER HAD TO FIGHT CANCER”. That pretty much says it all. Give her a hug and a prayer for me.

  18. As one who also has a sister whom she loves very much, I wish your dear sister health and strength! You are lucky to have each other.

  19. I lost the left one, and part of the right, and it’s ok. I can flex the left one like nobody’s business, puts Arnold Swartenager to shame. (And yeah, I know I didn’t spell that right). You’ll be ok Erin, it’s so much the way you look at it. Humor and a f*ck cancer attitude will carry you through. Positive thoughts headed your way!

  20. I missed my only niece’s wedding – one month after my stem cell transplant for leukemia. It hurts to miss family events, but they’d rather have you alive for the next one! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and accept all the help that others want to give you. Much love and best wishes from one survivor to another.

  21. Yep, if you’re going to be on a tough team you’d at least like it to be a choice, but welcome aboard anyway, Erin. It’s good to have someone beautiful on the team.

  22. I echo the wishes of the other blog readers.
    I hope your sister’s recovery goes as smoothly as possible.
    Her mental attitude seems optimal.
    Glad she is in a major medical centre like the Toronto area.

    If she is ready for her restaurant to be (hopefully instantly) filled with knitters, could you let us know the name?

  23. This post makes me sad (even though I know it is not suppose to), so I donated to the Rally instead of dwelling on my sadness. Fingers crossed for Erin and for you during your ride.

    • It also allows you cry anytime you want! It’s been 10 years for me. My thoughts and wishes are with you for traveling that road.

  24. Cancer sucks. I am sorry your family is going through it. positive karma and prayers are headed your sister’s way.

  25. Erin – scream and yell and swear….. laugh and hug and love. Give yourself time to heal. I’ve been there. I was very young and a lovely older woman who was getting treatment at the same time really helped me. Her name was Mrs. R and on the last day of treatment she whispered in my ear “don’t forget to dream”. I’ve never forgotten her grace, her fight, her humor and compassion of helping me when she was going thru the same type of treatment. Erin, don’t forget to dream!!

  26. Had a breast cancer scare myself a couple of years ago, but got very lucky with my biopsy results being negative. My heart goes out to Erin and her new husband, and all of her supportive family… wishes for a safe, though difficult, passage back to good health, and a relatively easy journey to her new “normal”. Ride on…..

  27. I have had cancer 5 times. The first time they didn’t diagnose it but who looks for cancer in a 20 year old? By the time diagnosis came 9 years later I was stage 4b and close to death. I have had radiation once and chemo three times. I’ve also had 20 year remissions and somehow with all that, I’ve had a life.

    On my last prospective bout with chemo, I was prepared to lose my hair and had come up with a strategy to cope with it. I planned to shave my head and have my artist friends paint mehendi dragons around my head. Really that would be cool wouldn’t it? However the drug I was given didn’t cause hair loss at all; I was kind of disappointed.

    I wish Erin the best and I hope her results are as good and even better than mine, I’ve got 40 years in the bag so far. Oh and one more thing, reading your blog history got me through more than one chemo regimen, I am forever grateful to you for the laughter.


    • Claire – what an amazing woman you are and your obvious strength and perseverance is incredible. I’ll think of you as I go through my 2nd time this year and the long reconstruction of my breast which sometimes gets me down. A week without a doctor appt would be such a treat! You will be my inspiration going forward – thank you for sharing your story.

      • Actually the first recurrence is the hardest and you are clearly powering through that so right back at ya baby.

  28. Wishing your sister, you, friends and family, strength and peace and all the r&r you can muster as you make your way through this time together. xoxo

  29. Stephanie, you write about your family with such quiet joy, amazing respect, and obvious love. I cannot imagine the generous spirit that runs through your lives, but we are so lucky that you choose to share them with us. It is a learning experience for us all. God bless you all.

  30. Oh Erin – best wishes for your treatments and recovery. I have had breast cancer twice, partly because I was advised that I didn’t “need” radiation the first time. Power through it; it’ll be so worth it to your recurrence rate. This year, my cancer came back, and I had to lose my right breast. But my prognosis is excellent as it hasn’t spread anywhere and I’m now going through the (long!) reconstruction process. It sucks to spend a whole year dealing with the “C” word, but life is worth it. Your family and friends will step up like you never thought they could and you will soon have it behind you. Life is an amazing gift and losing a body part is just a bump in the road. You are so lucky to have the family you have to support you – don’t forget to laugh lots; I’m sure Stephanie can help with that – maintaining a positive outlook (after the initial tears) is the best way I know to f*ck Cancer. Prayers and Peace from Idaho.

  31. Erin, my ex-flapper grandma who rode a Harley in the early 1920s used to tell us to “KKU,” which stands for “Keep your Knockers Up.” You can drop the “s” if you’d like but that’s the attitude I imagine you rocking after all Stephanie’s said about you over the years.

    Oh, and after my boss had breast cancer surgery and reconstruction her plastic surgeon’s office called to say they were having a sale on nipples. My all time favorite phone call. What I want to say is, if you get a phone call like that, get a pair for every occasion or holiday. That’s what I’d do.

    Sending strong stubborn vibes your way.

  32. Hugs and best wishes to Erin and your family. Erin, you are strong and will beat this beast which seems to have become epidemic everywhere. Wishing you well with love.

  33. So sorry to hear about Erin’s cancer and missing the bike marathon this year — but, she’s now got some extra time to practice for scaling Mt. Everest next year! Besides, Hank’s a teenager now — put him to use! Have him ride the bike marathon. He’ll grumble about it, but teenage boys usually grumble about nearly everything!

    Hang in there Erin. The Blog is pulling for you.

  34. I am so sorry for Erin. Cancer sucks and its hard. My husband was diagnosed in April. He will also be okay but it still sucks. It puts your life on hold for months and months at a time. Prayers for Erin from Wyoming!

  35. (But seriously Steph…one little tattoo. Just a teeny tiny miscrossed cable or something…I know a great knitting tattoo artist…) 😉

    • Shouldn’t the tattoo be a tiny bicycle??? On a hill?

      I want to see the head shaving. There is a young girl in my community who is being treated for cancer, and our local volunteer fire department had a “head shaving” in her honor. All the fire department volunteers turned out in force…but it was just the guys who got shaved!

      Erin, the Blog is keeping you in our thoughts, prayers (incantations or whatever else we do to send healthy thoughts out!).

      And keep dreaming!

  36. Being able to welcome that “different but good” is key, really, to so many things. That’s what lets us get on with it, and makes space for all the good new things to come.

    Love to your and yours, Steph.

  37. This absolutely required another gift to PWA via the funny one in honor of the fun one. There will be no ‘I gave’ e-mails; I’m giving the karma to Erin (in the human verification evelope)! Love to you both!

  38. Between you two sisters, there is so much love and strength, determination and positivity to keep you fighting. Then there are so many to send positive energy your way.
    (My 91 year old mother fought the battle at the age of 73…you can do it, Erin!)
    Best wishes for a healthy recovery.

  39. Much love to Erin, her hubby, Hank, and the rest of your family. I had a double mastectomy in January of this year and reconstruction in April. (It was supposed to be prophylactic, but the pathology came back with stage 1 lobular carcinoma. Caught super early, so no treatment required. It was a very close call.) I’ve spent a big chunk of this year recovering from surgeries and painful boob stuff instead of my usual routine of caring for my five little ones and doing the volunteer work that I love. I have another, smaller boob surgery ahead of me in the fall, but life gets better for me every day. Your dear Erin is in the thick of surgical recovery, and heading into the treatment phase of things (I remember my mom’s chemo days), and I wish her all the best. Please, please, please tell her that it gets better. This is the sucky part, but soon it will be a memory. Her crappy 2016. Soon her hair will be coming back, soon she’ll be wearing a bikini and buying new sexy bras, and soon she will be celebrating the completion her last chemo treatment. In the meantime, Erin will have gained a new extra measure of compassion, empathy and wisdom that only comes from traveling the road she is traveling now. She will be a source of encouragement to those who may follow her same path in the future.

  40. (Big sigh) I’m always at a loss for words at times like these, not wanting to say the wrong thing. Prayers for your sister and family. Well wishes (literally and figuratively) for Erin and family.

  41. In honour of your sister and mine, I’ll be making that donation that I’ve been meaning to make. All the karma their way and to the unfortunately many others whose bodies are giving them a hard time.

  42. I appreciate Erin’s willingness to allow this to be shared, and I hold your disclosures, especially very sensitive ones, as carefully as I can in my heart. I wish Erin the best, and I am sending prayers and positive energy to you all, right now as I write. Her attitude sounds great, and I hope she recovers completely. I’m just so sorry she must go through this. Hugs from me to you and yours. I didn’t post when Megan got married – all my best to the happy couple as well!

  43. Oh, Stef. I’ve got no platitudes but I do have much love for Erin, you, and the whole family. Clearly you all are pulling together as you always do. Can’t think of a better “treatment” in addition to the others.
    Erin? This sucks SO much. I’m glad you’re letting go of what you have to, being sad when you need to, and fierce when you can. Sending you all love and energy I can. Be well, be Erin, eh?

  44. I’m not the spiritual type, but my good thoughts are with you and your fierce sister. I have an auto-immune disease myself and i can relate to how not fun it is when your body decides to go all kamikaze on you. I’m so sorry you’re going through this but neither of you seems the type to let your chin down. I’m rooting for you in so many ways!

  45. You go Erin! You will knock this out of the park. I was diagnosed with uterine cancer 2 years ago and you are doing it right; just tackle things one at a time.

  46. Love, hugs, and healing energy to you and yours. I have every confidence that she’ll whip this, like she has so much over the years. I agree that you should make her a Team member and put up a page in her name. Just let me know and I’ll donate in her name, too.

  47. Oh Lord. You have my thoughts, all of you, especially Erin and Hank. I know how strong Erin is from all you’ve said, and she’ll do fine with all that strength and grace within her. In Hebrew we say “refuah shleimah,” “a speedy recovery,” and that’s what I wish you, Erin!

  48. I’m so sorry to hear this news. Others here have said things better than I can, but here goes: Several women in my family have had breast cancer and survived, so it can be done. I wish Erin as easy as possible road to recovery — and may your whole family soon be well and active together again.

  49. cancer is the worst. I had my battle back in 2012. lumpectomy successful, then chemo and radiation to finish it off. lost all my hair (like, all of it, on all parts of my body), which actually wasn’t the worst thing ever because wigs mean you don’t have a bad hair day. and then when it grew back, I had more curl than before. I’ve got a few more years of anti-hormone therapy, and then, hopefully, I’m in the clear.
    Erin, you’ll be in my prayers.

  50. I will hold Erin and the entire family in my prayers.

    It is one of life’s strange coincidences that I listen to CBC radio, and I know Stephanie does too. I think it was last week that I listened to an interview with a woman who is a tattoo artist. Her specialty, reached in a rather odd and roundabout way, is to tattoo trompe l’oeil style “breasts” on women who have lost the real thing to cancer. She has a design/art background which somehow branched into tattooing and she is able to create what are apparently realistic 3-D looks. I cannot for the life of me remember what show it was on, nor whether she was in Toronto, but I’m pretty sure you could search CBC and track it down.

    I know it sounds kind of crazy – but it was an interesting story that seems now to have been fate for me to hear. If nothing else, you might all get a chuckle out of this at a time when a chuckle is worth a lot.

    Chris S in Canada

    • I have 3-D tattoos of nipples on my reconstructed breasts and they do look like the real thing! Some women, however, prefer to have things remain the way the surgery leaves them.

  51. Listen. I don’t know about breast cancer — but I do know about illness. Dangerous illness — with terminality involved. My (late) DH was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 7. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that there’s a cure for this; there’s not. Insulin and transplants are not cures. I watched him die by inches over a decade. I’ll spare you the details. But from all of that I know this: that what you wrote about your sweet sister is true and right and noble and honourable and all you can do. My DH lost both his legs below the knee — within years of our finally learning ballroom dance. He was losing his hearing, his memory, the use of his hands and his digestive tract when he died (heart blew out). This is not to compare what happened to him to what’s happening to your beloved sister. No. It’s only to say “I understand. I’ve been in your shoes.” and to let you know that you and your sis and your family and hers are not alone. There are terrible challenges to our humanity in this world. All we can do is, day by day. pray for grace, comfort, peace, sanity and the courage to face whatever comes. All real; all true; all appreciated with as much love as we can muster. Please know you and your sis and your families are loved and prayed for and appreciated by all of us…because you are in our community, and we in yours.

  52. So sorry to hear this about Erin.

    Btw, how do you train your bike around in Toronto with full of cars, streetcars, and people?

  53. There’s a thing called knitted knockers. They’re light, soft, comfortable, and free. Volunteers knit and donate them. You can use them in your regular (not ugly) bra. They don’t weigh a ton and they’re not hot and horrid like silicon prothestics. They’re all over but here’s the link for Canada:

    • I’ve just completed 2 pair of Knitted Knockers for a friend’s daughter. They’re marvelous. Another good thing is that they can be adjusted through the amount of stuffing to work through the reconstruction phase.

      Hugs to Erin and you, Steph. Stay strong!

      • Sending love and good thoughts. And I am sure my sister does too. I have made several knitting knockers and should your sister needs one or a couple I would gladly knit some for her, but I suspect it would be a good knitting project for you Stephanie. The pattern is free and they never sell the knockers. I made several for the organization as they had a booth at Stitches West this year. But it wasn’t until I started making them for friends that I got feed back and felt really wonderful about this organization.

        It will get better soon. And I would definitely shave my head if my sister lost her hair. That is what sisters do. They are so special.

        • I’m Sunny’s sister, and I agree with what she said. Just finished my 14th Knitted Knocker and will gladly make whatever Erin needs. I’m sending you and Erin all the love I have for Sunny and all the strength I get from her.

          Erin is riding her own journey, but without a bike. I’d definitely donate if you set up a page for her.

          May the Force of the Blog be with you both.

  54. Dear Stephanie,

    I have been reading your blog for many years, but I don’t think I have commented before.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. Hopefully it will help Erin, Hank, you and your entire family to understand that you now have thousands of strangers pulling for you. Well, not complete strangers, because you have treated us like close friends over the years.

    You know the power of knitters, and that power is focused on Erin right about now. Much love…

  55. Y’know, if you’ve read about the Amazons, they would sacrifice one breast to be a better warrior, & archer when it came to hunting. Also, shaving your head was a sign of taking back your power as a woman & defying the societal roles of being submissive. Did you ever see the movie “Elizabeth I”? Remember when she shaves her head in the end & says, “Saint Catharine; I am a virgin again.” It was the most powerful line in the movie, as virgin originally meant a woman who was purely independent & in charge of her own destiny. Erin, you, like many survivors, are a warrior in the making with your strong spirit. You will make it through this. Blessings of healing & strength to you & all who suffer from this. And Blessed Be those who have fallen. We’ll see you in the Rally next summer.

  56. Well, crap! I’m sorry this is happening to Erin, and to your family. I had breast cancer at 44 (when *my* kids were teenagers – or the oldest was, the 2nd, almost). It’s hard on everybody. But life continues to be worth the price I paid that summer. I’m sure it’ll be that way for Erin, too.

  57. I’ve watched Erin (through the Blog) for years, and thought she seemed a strong and courageous lady. I’m also a single Mum (raising 3 boys) and she’s a great example to us all. I was amazed and pleasantly surprised to see her (and you) on that Restaurant Makeover show a few years back.
    Please tell Erin that I (and the Blog of course) will be thinking of her and sending all our best wishes for grace and healing.

  58. keeping fingers crossed that your sister comes through her treatment as well as my sister did (6 years all clear since her diagnosis and treatment). love {{hugs}} and positive vibes.

  59. Hi Erin!

    Greeting from a sister in survival from Australia. I was 42 when diagnosed. Chemo sucked, radiation sucked even more, drug therapy I won’t even mention. But that was me. Everyone is different. Just know you aren’t alone and get Stephanie to knit you a nice beret style hat if you’re bald during cold weather. A beret is better than a beanie because the puffiness of the beret makes it look like you have tucked your hair up.
    Best wishes

  60. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Erin. I’m a two and a half year survivor after a unilateral mastectomy and am back to what I call the new normal. There are a lot of us in this sisterhood that no one wants to join, but that means the amount of support we have to offer is tremendous!

  61. Sending Eric so much positive energy, and for the family as well. Thinking of you all. The McPhee clan seems to be fierce fighters (in the best sense of the phrase–I come from rebel Welsh, Irish and Lakota stock, so it’s a way to be proud of) and her strength is shining through. I hope she knows that people around the world are there to support her too. Fight on, Erin. You’re a winner.

  62. Dear one… So many of us know about breast cancer….I was happily recovering from a total knee replacement, almost a month old, when I discovered a lump. The ink had not dried on my medical file at the hospital when I returned for a total mastectomy, no reconstruction, and life. I am more than a pair of B reasts, and they do not define who I am…besides..I am 68, what am I going to do with two Madonna perky things “way up there” ???? No siree..I am treasuring my flatness…. I have a theory, and please pass this along to sister…. Some of us are chosen to walk this path because we can, we are strong….we are a sisterhood (and brotherhood ) of terrific and valiant humans….welcome to my tribe… The hidden blessing? It happened to me, not to my children, or grandchildren, or loved ones… We can do this!

  63. Wishing Erin the best. I was diagnosed with BC in 2011 and also “lost my summer” and part of one breast. Stage two. Chemo and radiation. Lost all my hair and really knocked the snot out of me. I couldn’t even knit. But my husband and family and friends were the best. I did get some gifts that I will cherish forever – I learned how to say no, I refocused my energy and I re-evaluated what was important to me. I did stress over all that I would not get done. And you know what? The world didn’t end, all the things got done or they didn’t. It wasn’t for me to be concerned with.
    And then I got a puppy! Yep, everyone said I was crazy but it was the best thing I could have done. It got me up and out and I laughed almost all day most days.
    Be well Erin. You have a great support system. Take care of you first.

  64. Cancer completely sucks, no two ways about it. But after she walks through the fire to the other side, she can find new life and be grateful for every day. No one wants to be in the cancer ‘club’, and all that stuff about making you stronger may be true in hindsight, but more and more cancers are becoming chronic, instead of terminal diseases. The support system you appear to have with your family makes a huge difference too.

  65. Your sister is where I was last summer. I was too sick to even get much knitting done. It took a while, but I’m much better this summer, and getting back to normal. It was such a great blessing to me to have friends and family around. Please spend time just hanging out with her so she doesn’t get lonely. It is hard not to be well enough to get out and around. Let her know that it gets better, though it may take longer than you think. Blessings and prayers from an 18 month breast cancer survivor.

  66. Sending support and good wishes to both you and Erin. Although much worse to be dealing with cancer yourself, it is also hard to stand by and watch.

    For what it’s worth, I say don’t get the tattoos. They are a mark of something deeply personal. They tell the owner things that even the most loving and supportive others just cannot know. And, sadly, one may someday need tattoos of her own. Don’t want to confuse the radiation team on such an important task.

    Much love!

  67. Can I just say i HATE cancer!!!! Love and hugs to your sister, and continued “good” news in her battle. Hugs hugs hugs!

  68. What a special post. Prayers for all of you. I, too, have a sister who has serious medical problems this summer (totally different from Erin’s, but equally serious) and I have watched as she struggles while healthy me goes about my business as usual. Sometimes I feel a little guilty that she got all the bad genes.

  69. Too many of us have been through this, and yet, everyone’s experience is their own.

    Sending all my love and positive energy for swift healing.

  70. The power of love and hope is amazing in helping one get through this type of thing. Sending both of those and prayers to you Erin and everyone in your family.

  71. You will having nothing but positive thoughts from me and a belief that your healing will be 100% – and then some. Take in all this goodness as your own, Erin.

  72. Hugs and prayers for all of you, but most particularly for Erin to stay strong.

    Seems to me that if you can ride from Toronto to Montreal, not just once but multiple times, you can kick cancer in the arse.


  73. Been there, done that, got the tattoos (lost chunk of Lbreast too). D**n cancer. Your sister is now part of a huge group of women who are supportive, understanding and caring. Best of luck to you all. We love you.

  74. I’m so sorry that Erin has to go through this. She will need you more than ever to be strong. And you will need someone to help you be strong. When my husband went through a very long cancer episode it was so, so hard to watch him feeling sick and tired from it all. I couldn’t talk to him, my best friend, about it. So I relied on my sister. She was a rock. Erin is very brave. Sending her and your whole family hugs and hopes for the best possible outcome.

  75. 16 years post breast cancer. “It’s just a boob and it is just hair…it is not me”. Said that a lot to myself and it got me through it. Hugs to you all 🙂

  76. Wish Erin a speedy and full recovery. You could have the tattoos – temporary ones done with a Sharpie. Surprise her! Or let her put them on for you.

  77. Book recommendation: UPLIFT by the novelist Barbara Delinsky. It’s a compendium of great suggestions on how to cope with all aspects of breast cancer, contributed by numerous women who have been there. I copyedited the book and have confidently recommended it to many friends, who give it rave reviews.
    Erin, be well as you go through this uncharted part of your journey.
    Stephanie, you are the best sister anyone could have.

  78. Came to Sock Camp the year that the homework was to make a ‘Booby’. My sister has just had a mastectomy and reconstruction that went sideways (literally!). I didn’t think I could do it but I stuffed mine with little knitted pink ribbons for everyone. Just made a donation for you and Erin as a pink ribbon of triumph over breasts gone maniacal.

  79. As we say in AA – God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. God Bless, Marg

  80. Sending love, prayers, energy for healing, and $ for the bike rally in honor of Erin. Hugs, too! Thanks for sharing your love with us all!

  81. Sending prayers for her, for your family. You are all blessed that you have a great family to help her though all the yuck and out the other side.

  82. There are so many folks Erin has never met who are sending thoughts and prayers. 🙂 Hoping for a speedy recovery! ♡

  83. Oh so sorry for your family’s struggle. Hang in there and sending love, hugs, and prayers. Hoping your family can have peaceful minds. Kristin

  84. donating on Erin’s behalf also in memory of my bestest friend I lost last year, to the effects of the cancer treatment all because her dr. wanted to “wait and see” concerning a lump on her breast—for a year! Ride like the wind Stephanie for all of us!

    • This is a lesson to ALWAYS get a second opinion if a doctor says to “wait and see”. Research and be your own advocate – you might save your life.

      • I’m a nurse and have seen too many people in bad situations, including my mother, because they didn’t get a second opinion despite their gut instinct. Unbelieving to me, many who didn’t want to offend their doctor. I say any doctor who would take offense at a second opinion is a doctor you should never see again. There are so many doctors that are “specialists” but still would not be a doctor I would see. Listen to your gut Ladies, not matter the health condition. Sending love and good wishes too all my “sisters”

  85. Wishing your sister and family all the best in her recovery!! She is strong and I’m sure will do great thru it all. Prayers for her!!

  86. F*** Cancer. Erin will come back from this, and all will be well. I wish her (and you) all the very best as you both handle your challenges.

  87. So sorry to hear about your sisters illness. There is lots of support out there though and I have a few friends who have been through the same thing and 20 years clear now is a fabulous sound. The outcomes are very positive it just takes a little time. It’s also OK to rant and rave as life just isn’t fair so bash it on the head a few times helps enormously. Sending happy healing thoughts to you and your sister.

  88. I too am going through the same process as Erin. It really helped to read about her journey and I hope we can both find some positive aspects to this odd summer we are both having.

  89. Oh my, best wishes for Eric and all of her family. I know many women who have beaten breast cancer. You go, Erin.

    Exactly 1 year and 2 weeks ago, I was reeling from my sister’s cancer diagnosis, not breast, but ovarian. I finally have been able to talk about it without crying. Reading this, I cried, which is perfectly fine and good for me.

    Sisters are exceptionally special relationships.

    Go go go and have all positive results!

  90. Thank you, and to Erin, for sharing such a private and personal battle. Sending healing thoughts and prayers for Erin (and Hank and husband and you and your family) through it all.

  91. This is my first time commenting after many years reading I would rather lurk. I want you to know that this month 20 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer age 37. Mastectomy I purchased better breasts yay plastic surgery. Lost my hair had chemo and I LIVED. My hair grew back curly and cute. I also got a new career. I now work with cancer patients helping and guiding them. It is the beast thing that happened to me. I will send out healing warm thoughts and love. I will toast to her recovery. I am an accidental expert.

  92. I totally agree with whoever said Erin should set up a funding page for the rally. Dont care if she rides or not. I would give.

  93. I’m having the exact same summer, but mine is bilateral. So, two lumpectomies. Treatment sucks, but we get to live. Next summer will be better. And the rally will still be there. It’s my last day of radiation today, can’t wait for my nipples to no longer be purple from the burn!

  94. Best of luck to your sister (and everyone else in the thread who’s going through or has recently gone through BC)! I’m the daughter of a twenty-four-years-and-counting survivor; I wish nothing less for all of y’all!

  95. My Mom had breast cancer a few years ago. Everything is good now (other than some leftover side effects) but it does really turn your whole world (and the world of everyone close to you) upside down.
    I’ve sat where your sitting now, and if cancer does anything, it really puts life into perspective. And it makes the strong that much stronger. She will have good days, she will have bad days, she will have absolutely horrible days. But she’s got a family who will hold her up when she needs it, and be ready to celebrate when she comes out the other side and can get back to all that she loves.

  96. Sending much love and hope and strength and prayers for Erin — may you be back on a bike next year!

  97. You seem like a wonderfully close and loving family so you will get through this but I will keep all of you in my prayers.

  98. Just echoing the words of support already expressed by so many others. Love and prayers for Erin and all those who hold her dear.

  99. Erin, I’m sorry about the cancer (and the surgery, and the treatment). I’m glad things are looking up.

    Stephanie, stay strong about the tattoos.

  100. Prayers for erin &her family. DH was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic ca 15 months ago. He’s still kicking, working full time. Nurses were very confused when i pulled out his computer & set up a conference for him @ the icu.:) Prayer& Maintaining normal life has been lifesaving for both of us. Amidst all the chemo, iv hydration & iv meds that are the medical part of keeping him going every day its essential to keep perspective. An illness is a part of life. Its not the whole thing. Our friends ask what they can xo to help. I say tell me something normal & pray. Bring her normal.

  101. I’m so sorry to hear this news but want you to know, Erin, that you are not alone on this journey. I was also diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago. The roller coaster of a ride each time you wait for results is the worst part of the whole process. I had surgery last month and am now well on the road to recovery. I was very fortunate to not then need any further treatment but know only too well the feeling of resignation at the thought of giving up a summer to radiotherapy.

    If you have the determination to have completed the bike rally in the past then I know you will have the strength to get through whatever treatment is necessary to kick this cancer’s butt!

    I also know that you have an amazingly strong sister in Stephanie and that she will be there for you.

    Take each day as it comes and just let your emotions out!

    Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  102. Sending positive energy your way.I don’t have any words of advice or wisdom, but I am a very determined positive thinker.

  103. Oh, Steph & Erin, I am so sorry to hear this. F*ck Cancer! I have had 2 mastectomies starting in 1998, so it been almost 20yrs. Erin, If you can do the bike ride , you got this! Losing a breast is emotional, but in its place, you gain so much appreciation for everything else in your life. You get to see Hank grow up and become a man. You get to go on to the next chapter in your life. You get to get back on your bike. I went for long bike rides in-between chemo treatments.
    So get through this so you can get your life back. I think you should set up a donation page for the Ride! I’ll keep looking for it. In the mean time, keep your chin up!

  104. My best wishes to your sister and all of your family during this scary time. Sending an OM your way right now. And hugs. ((()))

  105. ok this is going to sound really dumb. But I love you Steph. No in a creepy way- although the fact that I’ve never met you might make any of it creepy. But in the way I love my friends, and want the best for them and care about when they hurt and wish I could make it better. So there, I said it. I love you and by extension, your sweet sister. I’m glad you’re all muddling through and very sorry that you need to muddle at all. I’ll be thinking about you both.

  106. As we say here in the woo-woo business of energetic healing and bodywork, I am holding space and light and love for you, Erin. You have an incredible support network and those of us who have such a high regard for Steph have just joined that network en masse. Be well and whole and joyous again soon.

  107. I don’t know what to say except cancer is a bitch but a bitch that can more often than not be beaten. best wishes, love & strength to Erin & your family.

  108. I’m so sorry to learn of Erin’s breast cancer. Wishing her and the whole family peace and freedom from suffering. May Erin recover quickly and completely and feel back to herself soon.

  109. First – just double up on all the love and sympathy and cussing above from me. All I can do is send you all love and prayers from here. Second – I was going to tell you to brace yourself for a flood of chemo caps. This IS a knitting community after all. Now maybe you’d better brace for a flood of knitted knockers, lol. Hang in there Erin!

  110. So sorry to hear this news. Yes things will be crappy for awhile, but then they’ll get better. Erin, I’m a cancer survivor, twice, first from breast cancer and then, last year, colon cancer resulting in seven months of chemo. It was tough but I got through it with my family by my side. There were days when the couch and my pillow were my best friends. And then I was done. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers that you will be feeling better really soon.

  111. God bless “Erin”. She is on an adventure, that I also was on two years ago. With the love and support of family & friends, she will come out on the other side.

  112. I am a survivor of breast cancer.I gave my whole left breast away by surgery when I was 42. I went through anticancer drug treatment, horemon treatment, and I am 57, working, happy with my children now grown-ups! During the treatments there were hard times.Listening to the radio helped me.Not music programs but just the kind talking about things that happened yesterday today , mostly funny like the Yarn Harlot! Also letters from a frend living away. She only writes about her recent happennings, went for a walk, what scenery facinated her,what her husband said while cleaning the house. I hope and am sure your sister will find her own style to endure or relax! And for the family, my opinion is everyone must be as the way they always have been!

  113. Hi Erin,

    I’m sorry to hear that you are going through a tough time right now. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of January. I knew something was wrong last fall. It felt like I was being poked with a knitting needle in my breast. The doctor couldn’t find anything at the time. Sure enough, it showed up with the 3D mammogram. Yeah…I was right that something was wrong. Even thought it wasn’t good news, it reminded me that I do know my body the best. Surgery was on Leap Year…a great day to remove the mess. My triple negative tumor meant aggressive treatment. Chemotherapy wasn’t fun and now I am in radiation treatment.

    Good luck with your treatment! You will find support coming out of the woodwork! I sure did.


  114. As the daughter and the niece of breast cancer survivors, this hit me hard. You and and your family are in my thoughts.

  115. I found out earlier this year that I also have breast cancer. It’s hard to swallow. I’m only 40 and have two little kids. It sucks. The only way I can cope is to say “it is what it is”. Good luck to her and your whole family.

  116. My friend as well. A year lost, to something horrid. But it will be OK again. You may need to hold that hope sometimes.
    Love and Hugs.

  117. I am so sorry to hear about Erin. Two good friends of mine were both diagnosed last October and are now nearly finished with their treatments with good outcomes, thank goodness. I certainly wish the same for your sister.

  118. I went through bc 8 years ago. My biggest wish for women everywhere was that I would be the last one with this crappy disease. It always saddens me to hear of another woman dealing with this. I’m sending positive energies to your sister, your family and you.

  119. Steph, I’m with you on the tattoos. I agree with the commenter about the “don’t confuse future tattooist if you should need it later” and the “temporary tattoos” with henna or sharpie as compromise. Also I would never want a real tattoo either. I have contemplated shaving my head, just so I could pet the hair as it grows back in, it looks so soft when I see it coming back on other people, whether they shave it off for medical reasons or just keep their hair real short. I could pet it as much as I like, wouldn’t have to ask for permission or worry about being labelled a weirdo for wanting to pet other people’s heads. Anyway … just pointing out one advantage of shaving your head. Something to enjoy and look forward to.

  120. Dear Erin and Steph,
    My 37-year-old daughter Jen did the whole experience this last year. She just now finished her LAST radiation treatment, which was not long after her LAST chemo treatment. She’s made it. You will too.

  121. I’m so sorry Erin’s going through this. Cancer totally sucks! Glad she’s got such a great family to support and love her through this. I’m sending good healing energy her way. Hugs to both of you.

  122. My daughter-in-law was diagnosed & treated when she was 39. She is four years out now, and doing very well. I hope it helps some to know that . . . Wishing the very, very best to Erin.

  123. I’m so sorry to hear about Erin. But positive attitude and good medical care can work miracles. Sending healing thoughts and good wishes her way

  124. Sending love, support, and hugs! A happy coincidence – The Susan G. Komen Foundation is big around here in Colorado and sponsors the Race for the Cure every year. When Amazon started the smile contribution program, it was a no-brainer for me to choose a charity. Some day soon we’ll lick this breast cancer thing. I hope Erin’s spirit stay positive – we’re all sending the good juju <3

  125. LADIES! Are you all forgetting we are knitters????? Let’s make Erin some great beautiful pairs of KNOCKERS! Lovely handknits to soften the area between the bra and the breast after the surgery! Also, definitely make Steph get a tattoo on her ass and also I’m behind the donate to Erin anyway movement! Okay. My job here is done.

  126. Erin is a rock star,’and you don’t exactly half-ass the sister thing. All the good thoughts are with you both.

  127. Sending very best healing thoughts to Erin all the way from New Zealand. I’m also going through the breast cancer thing right now, so know exactly what Erin and the family are going through.
    One point I would like to make though – often people tell you how “strong” you are. Sometimes I do, but other times I just want to shut myself away and cry. Cancer patients just can’t be strong all the time, they need love and reassurance to get them through these tough times.

  128. I’ll add your sister to my #goodthoughtsmonday list. (Nearly every Monday I send out a list on Facebook for people who need a little extra positive energy to overcome some negativity. My friends rock good thoughts/holding people in the light/ praying/sending positive energy. )

    My mother is a 29 year breast cancer survivor. It’s entirely possible to overcome cancer. Hang in there, Erin! (Hank is a teenager? When did that happen!?)

  129. Sending positive thoughts your way for you, Erin, and your family. So many of my friends and several family members are breast cancer survivors. There can be difficult days, but having you in her corner is a huge support!

  130. I donated for both our full of grace sisters.

    You got this, I believe wholeheartedly that you make an incredible difference to far more people than you know, and this is further proof.

  131. Erin, I think it’s so generous of you to let Stephanie share this with us. I would not find it easy but it helps so many of us to know we aren’t alone. Reading all the comments above is inspiring. You have a great support team and a great family and I know you will get through this. All the very best x

  132. Dear Erin,

    This is sad news especially since it hits a body part that we’ve been conditioned to think of as a chief hallmark of our femininity. It really hurts.

    I don’t want to make this all about me but I had an aggressive, atypical breast cancer just about 10 years ago (and a reoccurrence since) and I’m not only still standing, I’m going strong.

    You’re sick and unbelievably tired now but you’ll get stronger again and you’ll be able to stop looking at your body as the enemy.

    I’m sure you have plenty of support but the blog knows my email if you want to vent, compare notes, etc. (I feel I should warn you that I’m the problem solving sort and I’m prone to giving blunt advice.)

    Take care of yourself, mourn, rest and forget about having a positive attitude! If happy thoughts could cure cancer …


  133. Late to read and post but sending hugs and hope to you and Erin and especially to your Mom who is going thru h-e-double toothpicks. I wish there were something I personally could do but lacking that, I’m making a ride donation. Keep us informed, please.

  134. My sister, who helped me immensely while I was being treated for breast cancer in 2007, pointed me to this post. I expected that my year of treatment would be awful, frightening and painful. It was, but those emotions were vastly overwhelmed by the love and kindness of my friends and family. It was beautiful! They did so many things — including team-knitting a 12-foot healing shawl! Studies have shown that patients who have lots of help and support have better outcomes. I’m nine healthy years out. Was it the surgery? Chemotherapy? Radiation? I think all those things, and the love and support of those around me. I wish all of you, especially Erin, an easy road on the path back to health.

  135. Best wishes to your sister! Have you heard of Knitted Knockers? I made three sets for my mother and put little charms inside that only we knew about. One was in the shape of a cupcake (with cherry on top!) because that was her nickname for my dad, who died in 2010. It can be a sweet, knitterly way to ease tension and brighten someone’s day, even if she never wears them.

  136. Gosh, so sorry to hear about Erin. I’m late to this post, but am sending every positive and healing thought I can straight to your sister and entire family.

  137. The Knitters With Breast Cancer group on Ravelry was a lifesaver during my breast cancer experience. It was the only support group I belonged to. They really are the most friendly and supportive forum on Rav. Everyone is welcome.

  138. *hugs* Titty cancer’s a total flaming *BLEEEEEP*! We went through it with Mom this past summer, and holy balls… It most definitely isn’t something I’d wish on anyone. She lucked out in that they caught it early, but because of where the lil *BLEEP*er was located, she had to have two surgeries, one to get the tumour itself (~2mm or less if I remember right.) and the second to take the lymph node in her armpit out to make sure the cancer didn’t get into her lymphatic system. And the radiation and drive to where she had it tired her out pretty bad, too.

  139. Breast Cancer sucks. There really aren’t words bad enough when this happens and I’m so sorry it happened to Erin. I was diagnosed in 2007 with Stage 3C. Last September, Stage 4. Right now, cancer free.

    I tell people who are diagnosed, “I wouldn’t wish this journey upon anyone, but there ARE treasures along the way. Look for them.”

    What I really wanted to do, is tell you, Stephanie, that your blog and books were a huge source of support for me when I was going through my year of treatments. I will always appreciate that and thank you for that. I know that Erin feels fortunate to have you for a sister and one of her biggest supporters. May you both feel more at peace because of it.

  140. Much healing mojo for Erin! Keep her in your thoughts as you do the things she loves. What about taking a GoPro with you as you ride and recording for her?


  141. Best wishes to your sister and all those who support and need her. She sounds like she has a great attitude. There are things that must be done, and you do them and move on and find at least one thing to smile about every day. Even better, laugh, and the more the better. My daughter fought and stomped all over leukemia a couple of years ago, and that very approach carried us through a lot of very hard, awful, and horrible days.

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