What I Bought for Black Friday

Peloton Bike from OnePeloton

It took me almost a year after the diagnosis to buy anything for myself that wasn’t related to my medical care. In late 2014, finally feeling well enough to enjoy strolling around our local town, I vividly remember wandering into a little boutique. I pulled a shirt off the sale rack, tried it on and looked in the mirror. I liked it. Should I buy this? Would I dare? I wrestled with the choice in the dressing room. It felt like a huge, revolutionary act. The shirt was $36.

I decided I could invest that much in my future. I took a breath and walked up to the register. The saleslady asked for my birthday so they could mail me a coupon. My birthday had passed the month prior. I would have to wait a whole year for that coupon to roll around again. I wondered whether I’d make it, but that seemed like an awkward thing to mention, so I just let the lady put me in the system. It was a strange feeling walking out of that store, new shirt in hand. What would have once been the most mundane transaction had become a profoundly life-affirming event.

Much to my husband’s dismay, after that $36 purchase, I reacclimated to consumerism relatively quickly. There have been countless other purchases since then, but occasionally I still get tripped up.

Many of you know of my love for Peloton. I discovered Peloton’s online fitness classes about 18 months ago. I dusted off an old spin bike I had acquired in my teaching days to prep classes, propped up an iPad, and began biking again.

I fell in love. Peloton classes have become a regular part of my life, but I’ve been somewhat limited. Because I am just an “app rider,” using my old bike, I can’t fully participate in the community and track all the metrics that are available on the proprietary Peloton bike. About a year ago I started considering purchasing the Peloton bike. But, ouch. It cost a lot more than a $36 shirt. Could I really justify it? I felt paralyzed.

Last winter I was in a minor fender-bender accident. I received some money for “pain and suffering” from the other driver’s insurance company. I talked with Eric, and we agreed to earmark the money for a Peloton bike. But, I still kept setting up arbitrary barriers/goals. I’d wait until I hit 100 rides, I told myself. Then 150. Then 200. Finally, I realized, this delay wasn’t just about the cost, but about fear – Fear, with a capital “F”: what if I buy this expensive item and the cancer roars back?

Ooof. There it is. “What if the cancer roars back?” is the thousand pound rock that sits in the pit of the stomach of every cancer patient I know, especially us Stage IVers who’ve been told that “if” isn’t even the right modifier, but rather, “when.” Fear (and cancer) can rear its ugly head at times both predictable and not. Who knew a massive consumer purchase could go so deep?

This week, as Black Friday approached and Peloton posted its only annual discount/promo, I decided it was time to take the plunge. I posted to the online “Peloton Cancer Warriors” group, requesting support for this major decision. They rallied behind me and reminded me that tomorrow is not promised and one of the best things we can do today is take care of our health. I heard from so many people, including a St. IV glioblastoma patient who told me that she uses her Peloton every day like her life depends on it; and that when she is working out, she doesn’t feel like she has cancer. Another patient told me she sees the purchase as an investment in her future and visualizes herself riding away from cancer when she uses it.

That clinched it. This shell-shocked woman who once agonized over a $36 shirt picked up the phone and placed the order. My bike arrives next week. If you want to find me there, my username is #LungStrongLisa, and I’ll be riding away from cancer as fast as these lungs will allow me for as long as I can.