Stopping Cancer Early – The Best Possible Investment


Canary Challenge Featured Rider: Christina Worsing

August 18, 2014


Christina Worsing

By: Shannon Boselli, Canary Foundation Intern

When we reached out to Christina Worsing to be featured in a blog post, we did so because of her lofty fundraising goals and her badass Superman costume. We knew little else about her, except for what was featured on her Canary Challenge page. We sent her an email asking if she’d like to be featured for the Canary Foundation blog, and she graciously said yes. After learning more about Christina and her experience with cycling and cancer, we truly felt lucky to have her biking in the 2014 Canary Challenge.

Christina began cycling as a bike messenger in Baltimore in her twenties. During her time as a messenger she began to do long distance rides and even a cross-country trip. When she was diagnosed with Stage 1, Grade 2 Ductal Carcinoma in August of 2013, her whole life changed. Surgery, chemo, and MRIs slowly crept up on her ability to ride. It became difficult to bike the six miles to her work each day. More than a year after cancer struck her body, Christina is dedicating herself to completing the 100 mile ride this September with her team, Team Candyland. With 13 people on the team, most will do the century ride while a few will tackle the 100-kilometer. This close-knit friend group is looking forward to tacking the challenge together, and that’s what will ultimately bring them success at the Canary Challenge.

Christina also attributes some of her recent cycling success to the training rides she does with her team. Being together, hill after hill, mile after mile, created a deep bond and appreciation between each member. It made it worth it for her to wake up at 5:30am and ride 70+ miles. Christina does not make fundraising a main focus for her followers. She reaches out to share her amazing story in a way that highlights the opportunities and successes that have come from her diagnosis. She creates “good vibes” around her donations and friendly conversations, and thus far the vibes have brought her much success.

Check out our interview with Christina. Thank you Christina, for you dedication to both cycling and the Canary Challenge, and good luck in your training for the century ride!

How did you hear about the Canary Foundation/Canary Challenge?
My friend and co-captain, Blake Engel, found The Canary Challenge when some bike friends were discussing summer century rides. I had been looking for a ride to do since coming out of six months of chemo and radiation. I felt like I had aged 30 years. My bones were stiff and brittle. My heart had been compromised from the meds, and I knew it was going to be a slow going in getting close to how I felt a year ago before this all began. Biking is the one exercise I’ve been doing consistently for 20 years and since moving to the Bay Area three years ago, one of the main ways I spend my free time. The idea of a century wasn’t an epic decision. But it also wasn’t an easy one. Six months ago there were days when I needed to stop half way through my six-mile work commute just to catch my breath. But I knew inside of me was someone who once upon a time was a bike messenger. Who once upon a time rode her bike across the United States. And who once upon a time could go for 70-mile rides with friends and still go out for dinner afterwards. I knew I had it in me. I just had no idea how I was going to find my way back.

What are you most looking forward to about the ride? How have you motivated yourself to get through this tough time?
When I think of the ride, I don’t think of it as being in the future state–as something to look forward to. Instead, the ride began for me in the moment I said yes to the idea of it. In

(far left) Blake Engel; (back left) me, Christina Worsing; (back right) Stephen LaRoe; (center front) Evan Kuchar - not a team member: (front right) Ulrika Andersson.

(far left) Blake Engel; (back left), Christina Worsing; (back right) Stephen LaRoe; (center front) Evan Kuchar – not a team member: (front right) Ulrika Andersson.

stepping forward it kick-started hundreds of experiences that continue to make up this bigger cancer ride I’ve been on for almost a year now. It’s been an opportunity to say “thank you” almost every day for the effort and willingness friends and family have demonstrated in supporting and participating in this ride. It’s been a chance to get myself into agreement with difficult experiences—to decide how I want to play it—to decide what I want to do with suffering when it arises. I can stay fixed on the discomfort and pressure, or I can accept it and then choose to make it into something else. Ultimately, I can get up the hill (metaphor or not) with whatever attitude I want.

The training rides in particular have been helping me understand what I value. The focus isn’t on accomplishing. It’s not the growing number of miles I can do or the bragging rights of finishing x thousand feet of elevation or riding x number of miles. It’s the empathy and friendliness I feel with my team when we come together. I look forward to the fun of being with one another as we get up those endless hills. I have deep appreciation for the patience of the group in waiting for each other. I love feeling people’s good intentions–knowing that people are willingly making the effort to peel yourself out of bed at 5:30am, so a short practice ride can be done together instead of alone. These are the things I look forward to about the ride.

How long have you been cycling? Do you have any funny cycling stories to share?
I’ve been riding in one way or another since I was ten, but my relationship with biking started really about 20 years ago in my 20s when I became a bike messenger in Baltimore. I did that for a few years, which led to some long distance riding including a cross-country trip. That was more than 15 years ago, but since then I’ve been a commuter and recreational rider on both coasts.

You have almost reached your fundraising goal and its July— wow! Are you pushing for more than $2500?
I haven’t focused on trying to hit a certain number. I’m pushing myself to reach out to and share my story in a way that emphasizes the opportunities that have come out of my experiences in being treated for cancer. I don’t want to sell the “against all odds” story because I don’t feel that way. If they’re willing to support me financially in this experience that’s great. If not, that’s totally great too. There’s been a lot of giving so far and am continuing to feel a flow of good vibes through dollar donations, friendly conversations and open well wishes.