Louisville pediatric cancer survivor says annual Bike to Beat Cancer more than just a ride

Her bike on her neighborhood road is something Lauren Vanmeter, a nurse at Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, likes to do. It’s a simple exercise that she will never take for granted, because the road to it was never guaranteed. bone marrow),’ said Vanmeter. At the time, she said it was a shocking blow to her parents. They took what they thought was their healthy daughter to a regular doctor’s appointment and left knowing she had a 10% chance of beating a disease that still has no cure. “I needed a bone marrow transplant, but no one in my family was a match for me,” Vanmeter said. “As we looked for options, we found that there were a few places that admitted pediatric patients who needed a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated person. The closest was Minnesota, so we had to move to Minnesota from Middlesboro.” The Vanmeter made a 900-mile move just to have the chance to keep their daughter alive. Less than a year later, it paid off. They got a life-saving call, someone in Minnesota who was willing to be a donor and who was also a perfect match. “We thought this was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Vanmeter. “There’s not just a match for everyone, some people never get a match.” She got the procedure and about six months later she was in remission. She did what her doctors thought was the impossible, she beat it. Although the disease was far behind her, she never forgot the man who gave her another chance at life. “Over the years, he would send postcards from all the different places he did triathlons and stuff,” Vanmeter said. “It just seemed fun, super cool to do.” So she decided to try it out for herself. In 2014, she went to Norton Cancer Institute Brownsboro with her bike in hand. She joined the hundreds of people who took part in the Bike to Beat Cancer event that year. She admits she was nervous because she didn’t know what to expect, but after crossing the finish line fear was the last thing she felt. “You have 35 miles to think about everything,” said Vanmeter. “When I crossed the finish line I don’t even know the words, it just felt like triumph. I was so proud of myself that I could do it.” It’s a feeling that the event coordinator, Anne Cannon said, happens to everyone involved. “If you look at it from year one to year 13, the magic doesn’t end,” Cannon said. “They’re riding for themselves or for a loved one who has cancer, and that’s just a powerful feeling.” As she gears up for another year of the ride, Vanmeter said she’s happy to be doing it in person again. She said there’s just something about being around the cancer community that makes the event more than just a ride. “I can honestly say I feel like I’ve beaten cancer now,” said Vanmeter. “I feel it more now than when I was 4 years old.” To date, the event has raised $4.5 million. This year’s goal was to raise $500,000, but that milestone has already been surpassed by $28,000 and is still ongoing. Cannon said every dollar raised will go to the Cancer Institute to help with prevention, relief, research and equipment. If you’re interested in participating, you can choose from a 15, 35, 65, or 100 mile assisted ride, a 5 mile family ride, an hour-long spin ride, or a virtual ride. The Bike to Beat Cancer event will take place Saturday September 11, 2021 at the Norton Cancer Institute – Brownsboro. You will be asked to register for the event, but Cannon said they also accept walk-ups.

Her bike on her neighborhood road is something Lauren Vanmeter, a nurse at Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, likes to do. It’s a simple exercise that she will never take for granted, because the road to it was never guaranteed.

“When I was 2 years old, I was diagnosed with ganglioneuroblastoma (an intermediate tumor arising from nerve tissue) and chronic myeloid leukemia (bone marrow cancer),” said Vanmeter.

At the time, she said it was a shocking blow to her parents. They took what they thought was their healthy daughter to a regular doctor’s appointment and left knowing she had a 10% chance of beating a disease that still has no cure.

“I needed a bone marrow transplant, but no one in my family was a match for me,” said Vanmeter. “As we looked for options, we found that there were a few places that admitted pediatric patients who needed a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated person. The closest was Minnesota, so we had to move to Minnesota from Middlesboro.”

The Vanmeters have traveled 900 miles to have the chance to keep their daughter alive. Less than a year later, it paid off. They got a life-saving phone call, someone in Minnesota who wanted to be a donor and who was a perfect match.

“We thought this was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Vanmeter. “There’s not just a match for everyone, some people never get a match.”

She got the procedure and about six months later she was in remission. She did what her doctors thought was the impossible, she beat it. Although the disease was far behind her, she never forgot the man who gave her a new chance at life.

“Over the years, he would send postcards from all the different places he did triathlons and stuff,” Vanmeter said. “It just seemed like a fun thing, a super cool thing to do.”

So she decided to try it out for herself. In 2014, she went to Norton Cancer Institute Brownsboro with her bike in hand. She joined the hundreds of people who took part in the Bike to Beat Cancer event that year. She admits she was nervous because she didn’t know what to expect, but after crossing the finish line fear was the last thing she felt.

“You have 35 miles to think about everything,” said Vanmeter. “When I crossed the finish line I don’t even know the words, it just felt like triumph. I was so proud of myself that I was able to do it.”

It’s a feeling that the event coordinator, Anne Cannon, said comes across to everyone involved.

“If you look at it from year one to year 13, the magic doesn’t end,” Cannon said. “They’re riding for themselves, or for a loved one who has cancer, and that’s just a powerful feeling.”

As she gears up for another year of the ride, Vanmeter said she’s happy to be doing it in person again. She said there’s just something about the cancer community that makes the event more than just a ride.

“I can honestly say that I feel like I have now overcome cancer,” said Vanmeter. “I feel it more now than when I was 4 years old.”

The event has raised $4.5 million so far. This year’s goal was to raise $500,000, but that milestone has already been surpassed by $28,000 and that’s counting.

Cannon said every dollar raised will go to the Cancer Institute to help with prevention, relief, research and equipment. If you’re interested in participating, you can choose from a 15, 35, 65, or 100 mile assisted ride, a 5 mile family ride, an hour-long spin ride, or a virtual ride.

The Bike to Beat Cancer event will take place on Saturday September 11, 2021 at the Norton Cancer Institute – Brownsboro. You’ll be asked to register for the event, but Cannon said they also accept walk-ups.

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