Two wheels and one large dream
June 10, 2008 · Updated 5:52 PM
"POULSBO - Lisa and Kelly Campo are finding that life is a lot like riding a bicycle. There are long, boring routes. Easy downhill portions. Unexpected curves and often painful hills that must be overcome as the road stretches off into the unknown. The Poulsbo couple almost lost it all on one of these hills when Lisa's future took a severe turn for the worse. She was diagnosed with throat cancer in August 1999. But while her life cycle bucked and shook in the ensuing months, Lisa - like any seasoned rider - refused to relinquish her grip on the handlebars. The battle is one she will never forget and something which has provided a true link not just with survivors of cancer but victims as well. It really shifted my priorities, Lisa said. Diagnosis and treatment forced her to quit her job as a registered dietician and become a stay-at-home mom. The career path does have some fringe benefits though. She gets to spend more time with her eight-year-old daughter Abigail and five-year-old son Simon. Fighting cancer via chemotherapy, however, kept Lisa from another one of the loves of her life - biking. I was in shock for most of the treatment. That lasted four months, she explained. Radiation therapy lasted another three months and was topped off with surgery last September. Surgery was a piece of cake after chemo. But still the road to recovery is a long one and she still must have monthly checkups to ensure that she stays healthy. That's where bicycling comes in. The Campos have been hitting the road on two wheels ever since they were youngsters. This love for cycling continued throughout school and well into married life. In fact, their first major purchase after tying the knot was a tandem Cannondale, affectionately referred to as the semi. It's great going down hills, but you really have to push it to make it up them, Kelly explained. The person who sold it to us told us it would either make or break the marriage. If anything, tandem bicycling has strengthened the couple's bond and enhanced their communication. Such cyclists have to be in constant contact during rides, Kelly said, noting that all maneuvers have to pretty much be synchronized. As avid bikers, the Campos have also followed the Tour de France and other internationally-recognized races for more than a decade. Watching and reading about American speed cyclist Lance Armstrong, his fight with and triumph over cancer was inspiring enough, the Campos agreed. But the achievement took on real meaning after Lisa was diagnosed. Prior to winning the Tour in 1999 and again in 2000, Armstrong started the Peloton Project which has already helped raise nearly $2 million for cancer research, development and education. The Peloton Project is a bicycle-oriented fund raiser that invites enthusiasts of the sport to compete in and enjoy an annual event known as the Ride for the Roses. This year, the Campos are trying to collect $10,000 so they are able to participate in the Austin, Texas gathering. All proceeds benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation. With a fund-raising deadline of Feb. 26, the two are pedaling as fast as they can this month to meet the lofty goal of $5,000 apiece. At this point we're just focused on getting the word out, Kelly said. Lisa said her near-death experience has helped her rediscover what it means to be on the road of life - an insight she hopes to instill in others through her participation in the ride. It has also created an unbreakable connection between herself and other who have fought, or are fighting, the disease. I feel a real bond with people who have experience with cancer, she remarked. But I also feel like I lost a year of my life. She could have lost a lot more. Without the existing medical technology, which is the result of such fund raisers, she might have done just that and Kelly might have had to face life solo on a bicycle built for two. How to help the Campos Ride for the Roses Call (360) 779-1689 or send a check to the Lance Armstrong Foundation c/o Kelly and Lisa Campo 4754 NE Lamms Lane Poulsbo, WA 98370 For additional information call (512) 236-8820 or visit www.laf.com. "