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On Saturday, February 29th, 2020, I was lucky enough to participate alongside 6,000 others in an incredible event in support of cancer survivors and cancer fighters everywhere. The 2020 Dolphin Cancer Challenge, hosted by the UM Sylvester Cancer Center, the Miami Dolphins and thousands of others across South Florida, was an event that I will never forget. Thousands grouped on bicycles and on foot to ride, run or walk, up to distances of 100 miles, in support of the fight against cancer.

I was invited on Team Camcon to ride 35 miles. It was one of our coldest days of the year for South Florida and a wind that kept turning against us throughout the ride from Coral Gables to the Dolphin Stadium marked an otherwise lovely event. It was a few hours of pushing against the wind. It was over relatively quickly. Yet, I couldn’t help but think of all the patients struck by this terribly impartial disease. Of the days and months of feeling like they are pushing against something insurmountable and needing to keep believing in their recovery, their cure. I think of all the families and patients who have fought this battle and lost. Of the scientists spending years and entire careers doing the same.

I care for many cancer survivors in my practice. Once finished with treatment, the usual suspects of tendonitis and arthritis continue to take a toll on their bodies. My cancer patients are fierce, informed and yet acutely aware of their body’s fragility. They are fundamentally different, having survived the ordeal of surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. More importantly, they and their loved ones had to tackle the “C” word.

As part of the ride, participants were able to personalize their jerseys, to name those they supported. Many had a friend or a family member. Even more had multiple loved ones they were fighting for. It is true, as I looked around, that we have ALL been touched by cancer in some profound way. My favorite personalization was this, though – “I fight for those who can’t.”

@SylvesterCancer @TackleCancer #Dr. Sophia Deben