Oxford resident Mark Terrian recently joined approximately 900 cyclists for an exhausting and exhilarating event July 28-31, which raised more than $2 million for the granting of wishes for Michigan children who are battling daunting illnesses.
An avid cyclist for the past 12 years, this was Terrian’s first time participating in the 29th Annual Wish-A-Mile Bicycle Tour.
According to Terrian, he became inspired to check the experience off his bucket list after he began battling an illness of his own last August. He was diagnosed with rectal cancer.
“It was a great way to give back to a young child to help them get the wish that they wanted through the Make-A-Wish foundation,” Terrian said.
As a member of a group of riders called “Team Jenna,” Terrian traveled across Michigan during the three-day WAM 300 tour, covering 300 miles of Michigan countryside. Their tour ran from Traverse City to Brooklyn.
His group was able to raise $24,710 in donations for the Make-a-Wish foundation total, with $1,620 of that total coming from Terrian.
While a 300-mile bike ride would be a demanding feat for just about anybody, Terrian said he found the journey to be even more challenging given his condition.
“Challenge-wise, it was just physical stuff,” he said. “The mental state 60-70 miles out on a ride was hard. You know you still have 20-25 miles to go that day and your body is hurting. The drugs have done things to my hands and my feet, so it makes it hard to be able to hold those bars for that long. I had to stop every 15-20 miles at the rest stops.”
Despite the physical challenges, Terrian said he has pushed himself to continue doing what he loves.
“I ride as much as I can, even with what I’m going through. I usually ride 3,000 to 4,000 miles a year when I’m healthy. I was at just under 900 (miles this year) before I did this,” Terrian said.
During the tour, Terrian encountered much more than rain, wind and steep hills.
He encountered a huge amount of support from friends and family.
“I got to stop for a while and see a lot of people (during the tour),” Terrian said. “I work at a bike store part-time, so I got to see a lot of people I know and they were all very understanding and told me ‘You’re doing awesome.’ It was kind of nice to get that kind of support.”
Terrian endured six months of chemotherapy starting last September and continues to undergo a chemotherapy pill regimen every few weeks to prevent the cancer from spreading.
With the three-day bike tour behind him, Terrian is now looking ahead to the final stages of his treatment.
Later this month, Terrian will be starting radiation therapy, which will be delivered to areas of his colon.
According to Terrian, his doctors have told him the radiation therapy has a 20 to 30 percent chance of bringing his cancer into remission.
“I’ll know about 6-8 weeks after the radiation treatment (if the cancer is gone),” he said.
For donations, a fund-raising page entitled “#TERRIANTOUGH Cancer Battle” has been set up on the gofundme.com website.
Donations can be made to help cover everything from medical bills to the Terrian family’s living expenses.