About 11 years ago, while a Baylor College of Medicine employee, I started working in the Breast Oncology Clinic at Harris Health System’s Ben Taub Hospital, which serves a large uninsured and underinsured population in Harris County. I had previously been a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia, so my interest was that of helping others in need. Working as an oncology nurse practitioner I was doing just that, right in my own back yard!
Patients frequently show up in Harris Health in the very late stages of cancer, due to lack of education, lack of money, fear, cultural beliefs, and a host of other reasons. Things have greatly improved since that time, but back then, it could take months for something as simple as a CT scan to be done. It’s a challenging job, but very rewarding when you get a big hug from a grateful patient.
Through this job, I met the wonderful folks at Pink Ribbons Project, and eventually was asked to be on the Board of Directors. These kind people raise money to support the underserved population in order to get mammograms, receive education about breast health and services, and give support during treatment. It was a no-brainer; I immediately said yes.
Like many people, my life has been touched by breast cancer. I have lost family members and recently dear friends to the disease but also have good friends who are beating it. I want to help this organization in their mission in any way that I can.
Pink Ribbon’s biggest fundraising event is the Tour de Pink bike ride held annually at the Prairie View A & M University Campus. The 2014 ride, slated for Sunday, Sept. 14, marks the 10th year anniversary of the event!
Ten years ago, on the inaugural ride, I rode the shortest distance, 12 miles, on my mountain bike with the Baylor team. Riders can choose from 12, 23, 34, 47, 63, 80 and 100-mile routes. Baylor typically has one of the largest and top fundraising teams overall.
My first ride was such a positive experience. Since then I have gotten wholeheartedly into cycling. Now, I do the 80 or 100 mile route on my super fast road bike! I am proud to say that I have ridden every year, and love it every single time.
For the last few years, I have served as co-captain of the Baylor Tour de Pink team alongside my friend Ruth SoRelle, chief science editor at Baylor and also an avid cyclist.
This year is especially important to the team as we ride in honor of Ruth who is unable to ride and serve as captain due to a lengthy illness – she will be with us all in spirit and plans to volunteer!
The pit stops that are supported by different organizations, including Baylor, are enthusiastic and fun as they cheer you on your way. The volunteers are amazing and the route is enjoyable. I get to ride and “work” in the company of amazing people as the Baylor team captain, many of whom have become my good friends.
The funds from Tour de Pink go toward things like the Saturday mammography program at Harris Health System (so people working Monday through Friday don’t have to take off work to get a mammogram); mobile mammography units, which go out into the community; educational binders, written in both English and Spanish to help patients navigate Harris Health System among other worthy causes.
I’m still working with cancer patients at Harris Health System, and you’ll see me out cycling every weekend.
If you want to ride with the Baylor Tour de Pink team, visit the Tour de Pink website and search for the Baylor College of Medicine team on the “join an existing team” tab.
I hope to see you out on the road!
– By Meggin Crawford