HOPE in the STARS

I'm sitting here at chemo, slowly counting Erbitux drips and willing tumors to shrink as each drop falls. The skies outside my window are grey and heavy; filled with drops of their own. Everyone around me is fast asleep. So in this quiet room that overflows with fear and hope, I'm left to ponder the excitement of the week past and the scanticipation of news ahead. In this richness we call life, there is an abundance of contrasts. Last week, I was too busy to write as the excitement of SuperRide XII was in full force. I was getting ready to welcome friends (riders and cancer survivors) to an event that has been a part of my family for the past 11 years, SuperRide XII. This year, the event partnered with YES! (beatlivertumors.org) to raise funds and awareness through a powerful concert featuring Wade Hayes and Clay Thrash and ending with a final competition ride called HOPE in the STARS. We partnered the All Star team, consisting of two of the best young riders from each team, with 26 cancer survivors. Each rider/survivor pair shared their story and a few of the survivors were even able to travel to Texas and meet their riders. Getting to visit with fellow survivors, Brian MacLeod, Glen and Sue Susz, Tami Thennis, and Greg and Jen Thorpe made the weekend even more powerful, emotional and special. It was awesome to see them meet their riders and to even have pictures on horseback. Lucky for Glen, this helped to accomplish a bucket list wish for Sue! We all spent our nights on "The Mountain" at Canton in the Palm Cabanas thanks to Holly and Lucille. We were treated to several meals at Dodge City, enjoyed breakfast at my favorite place to start the morning, Downhome Cafe, and feel like we've made some pretty amazing friends through the week.Wade Hayes performed an acoustic set for us at Texas Rose Horse Park on Thursday night and brought the crowd to their feet with "Go Live Your Life." After having heard his story at The Grand Ole Opry last year, I had tears streaming down my cheeks. It had become a dream of mine to have him perform at one of our events and I couldn't have been more excited about meeting him in person...and having others do the same. He is a stage 4 colon cancer survivor, too, and I knew his story would bring hope and reality into a collision of emotion. What a beautiful thing for dreams to come to fruition!A few months ago, I had not met or heard of one of the highlights that came to HOPE in the STARS. But as luck would have it, we needed an opening band for Wade. Ronnie is proud to say he discovered Clay Thrash. While at the local barber shop one day, Mike (the owner and guy who keeps Ronnie's hair awesome) was talking about his son who had just released a CD, self-titled Clay Thrash, and his first single off the record, "My Heart." We got Clay's information. For the past few months I've been working with his manager, Keith Reeves, and have felt a strong connection with this young star's voice and music. What an AMAZING addition! Pam Bonner (drillmaster, coach and friend) wrote a song entitled, HOPE in the STARS, and Clay put it to music and he has also written another song for YES that I will soon be talking about a lot! They were the final two songs performed and could not have been a more perfect ending to our event...heartwarming, emotional and filled with HOPE! And not a dry eye in the house!Adding these two musicians and their voices to our cause added leaps and bounds to the awareness created by the event with radio interviews (99.9 KMOO), newspaper articles (Tyler Morning Telegraph) and even KLTV. What a foot-stomping, two-stepping, bringing people to their feet, hand clapping way to share some stories!From last week - watching Karlie compete, seeing Chloe in lead-line, meeting up with old friends and making new ones, music, and fun were part of last week. To this week - which holds the key to my future; immersed in the many things that allow me to enjoy living and moving forward: chemo, nurses, doctors, scans and results. Perhaps that is the beautiful irony of life; the bad followed by the good, overcoming the challenges by celebrating each moment, and facing the cancer struggle knowing that the best is yet to come. Watching the drip of this chemo today is one treatment closer to experiencing the cure of the future.Suzanne Lindley has been living with metastatic colorectal cancer since 1998. She is the founder of YES! Beat Liver Tumors, an organization for individuals living with metastatic liver tumors, and an advocate for Fight Colorectal Cancer.