John and his Mom

By John Matthews

Mom had a nagging cough; one that simply wouldn’t go away. I didn’t think there was anything to worry about. A couple of tests, some medicine and she would soon feel better.

At the time, she was almost 80 years-old, in good health and very happy with a loving husband, 6 kids and 19 grandchildren she adored.

The test results came back and with them the terrifying words, “You have lung cancer.” From that day on, our family was forever changed.

While Mom was sick, I learned a lot about lung cancer: the low 5-year survival rate, stigma surrounding the disease and lack of research funding.  More needed to be done, but what could I do?

Training for the cross country ride.

Fast forward to 2015, four years after we lost Mom, Dad and I decided to attend Lung Cancer Alliance’s National Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. It provided us with an opportunity to make Mom’s voice heard, learn more about the disease and educate our nation’s leaders.

I walked away from DC inspired!  I wanted to do more.  Lots more.  And then, it hit me. I would ride a bike across the country to bring the lung cancer community together and get people talking about this disease from coast to coast.

The response to this “insane idea” (my wife’s words) has been overwhelming.  There are over 40 people pitching in on so many fronts, doing things like helping me buy a bike (prior to this, I was not a cyclist), mapping the route, promoting the event and even offering advice on what to pack and how to eat once I get on the road.

And so, TODAY, August 24th I leave on bike from Pennsylvania for a seven-week adventure that will take me across the country to San Francisco, CA. My goal is to simply do my part to make a difference in the fight against lung cancer by raising awareness and funds in memory of Mom.  The money raised goes to Lung Cancer Alliance and Bonnie J Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, who are focused on ending the stigma, advancing research and advocating for early detection to save lives.

So what can YOU do to help?  Well, here are a few ways to get involved:

  1. Share your story and be one of the tributes featured along the ride! Learn more.
  2. Join us on September 29th and 30th, two special days where everyone in the world can do something (walk, run, swim, etc.) while I am riding my bike. Find out more.
  3. Donate to help the lung cancer community.
  4. Spread the Word! Tell your community about the ride and keep up on my journey via Twitter (@Ride4Lungs) or see my progress here.

Thank you for your support! Be sure to keep an eye out these next seven weeks. Who knows? I may be coming through your town. I’m the guy with the sore legs and big smile doing my part to fight lung cancer!