Madison physician, Carol Kossman, was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer when she had her annual screening mammogram in spring 2008. "For the first time in my life, I thought of my own mortality and I learned to appreciate each day that God gave me," said Dr. Kossman.
After having surgery, she underwent radiation therapy at Baptist Cancer Services. "The Radiation Oncology Department at Baptist is the most efficient medical facility I’ve ever been involved with," she said. "I am very grateful for the wonderful care I received there."
During her treatment at Baptist, Dr. Kossman saw signs promoting the Cyclists Curing Cancer Century Ride, a cycling event that, among other things, raises money to maintain The Serenity Garden at Baptist’s Hederman Cancer Center. She vowed to participate in the event as soon as she was able.
Six years later, after she beat cancer, Dr. Kossman arrived in Clinton to participate in the 13th annual Cyclists Curing Cancer Century Ride. She had decided beforehand that she would ride 62 miles that day, although her goal was to one day complete the full 100 miles. With the sound of an air horn, her ride along the scenic Natchez Trace began.
Dr. Kossman rode her trike, a three-wheeled adult recumbent cycle, with ease that morning. The weather was beautiful, the course was relatively flat, and around mile 20, she thought, "Is today the day? Can I ride the full 100 miles?" She reached the 31-mile mark, what would have been her turn-around point, and on an "endorphin high," she decided to keep riding.
The additional miles she rode led her through the quaint Mississippi towns of Rocky Springs and Port Gibson, where she found Baptist’s radiation oncology staff manning two of the rest stops. "That was very inspiring and encouraging to see them there," said Dr. Kossman.
By 3:30 p.m., eight hours after the ride began, all of the other riders had crossed the finish line. Knowing she was the final rider on the course, Dr. Kossman was determined to finish. "I felt guilty and grateful that the volunteers were keeping the rest stops open just for me," she recalled.
After nine hours of cycling, she finally came to her last hill on Clinton Parkway, one block from the finish line. What she found just over the hill was the highlight of her entire day. "About ten people in bright purple shirts were screaming and cheering for me," she said.
Dr. Kossman finally reached her goal of cycling 100 miles, and the fact that she did it in a ride that supports cancer patients made it that much sweeter.
The 2014 Cyclists Curing Cancer Century Ride was a tremendous personal accomplishment for Dr. Kossman, and, also, a huge success for cancer patients and their families at Baptist.