'The Human Spirit Is an Amazing Thing': Life Lessons from Tour de Mercy

‘The Human Spirit Is an Amazing Thing’: Life Lessons from Tour de Mercy

Posted on: September 19, 2014

After biking in France since September 11, Chris Christian returned to Italy on Wednesday, September 17, at kilometre 1400 in his cycling loop through Europe. Soon, after numerous mountain climbs and 17 days on most rugged tour he's ever attempted, Chris will reach the end of this extraordinary trek.

His personal goal: 1,851 kilometers in honor of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine 
His larger hope: to raise $5,000 in support of local cancer patients and their families

As of yesterday, Chris has biked 1,543 kilometres! Take a moment to check Chris's fundraising progress.

An Unexpectedly Difficult Day and Climb

So far this week, Chris has passed through Grasse and Nice, France, as well as Monaco, Savona, San Remo and Genoa, Italy. Here's his update on Tour de Mercy:

Tuesday [September 16] was a difficult day. Thanks to less-than-optimal directions from one website I'm using, I ended up doing seven mountain ascents, including two huge, 1,300-meter climbs. I ended up biking almost 200 kilometers! Unfortunately, by the time I realized I was off course, I had gone too far to backtrack! Then, on top of it all, my tablet keyboard broke, and my hotel in Nice wasn't exactly nice.

In this picture, you can see the mountains I ended up biking through. At this juncture, I was about 40 kilometers from Grasse. This col [lowest point of a ridge or saddle between two peaks] was much higher than the one from last week. It was last col of the day, and it took me about 4-1/2 hours to reach the summit. The way down turned out to be very dangerous. Most of the road had no guard rails. 

While making that grueling ascent, I paused to take a selfie and talk to an Italian family that was traveling through France. They were the ones who told me it was the final col, which encouraged me. 

Tour de Mercy 2014 | Monaco, Italy

On Wednesday [September 17] I reached Monaco. I paused and thought about how humbling the past 10 days have been – particularly the past five. Yesterday's ride was far worse than last week and even Mt. Ventoux.

I thank my wife and daughter for staying in touch with me, along with others like my brother Scott. Being out here alone can play on your mind. But you can't quit because you'll be left standing in the middle of nowhere. So, I keep pushing on.

Discovering How Much the Human Spirit Can Endure

Tour de Mercy 2014 | San Remo, Italy

When he arrived in San Remo, Italy, at the end of the day on Wednesday, Chris said it was a beautiful sight. He decided to go out for dinner and have an ice cold beer – a big one!

Yesterday [September 18] was another long haul, but it was all coastline from San Remo to Sanova to Genoa for a total of 144 kilometres. Chris decided to call it Stage Darr in honor of Mercy employee Cindy Darr and her mother Gloria.

I was in rare form yesterday in that I could have kept pedaling beyond Genoa, but the weather turned sour after a few hours again. Although I feel great, I'm starting to have some minor problems with my bike. I might take a day off soon.

Even though I've never had cancer myself, this journey has taught me that the human spirit is an amazing thing. My desire is that this effort will give hope to those who are suffering, or perhaps it may simply bring them a smile. 


All Chris's trip-related expenses are paid, so 100% of your donation will benefit Mercy Cancer Center.


Cancer Tip #8

Chris’s family has been touched by cancer, as have many families worldwide. But there is hope. Many people diagnosed with cancer can hope for cure or remission, thanks to improved cancer screenings and treatments. Cancer research makes all of this possible. People like Chris who have taken initiative to help raise funds play a key role in contributing to the more than 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United States today. We are grateful to the donors, researchers, patients, and families who continue to strive for better cancer care and positive outcomes.

Cancer Tip #9

If you are considering a test of endurance like Chris’s Tour de Mercy, you probably are doing a lot of research: what equipment works best, clothing, foods that help sustain your energy. You are looking for the right combination of factors for optimal success. The same is true for cancer care. Learning what treatments work best is essential to optimum treatment. That’s why Cancer Clinical Trials are so important. Researchers are striving to find the best combination of treatment modalities for optimal success in the fight against cancer. Mercy is striving to be at the forefront of cancer research. For more information about clinical trials, contact us at 1-888-293-4673.

Cancer Tip #10

Chris had a lot of support throughout his training, and we are all rallying around him stateside as he embarks on his journey. Cancer patients, too, need support on their journey. Caregivers, some in the same home, some a long distance away, are one of the most essential people in the cancer experience. Having someone in your corner every step of the cancer journey can make the whole process emotionally and physically easier. Mercy Cancer Center wishes to thank all caregivers for their contribution to the comfort of cancer patients.

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