Do What You Love: Biking Through Cancer Treatment

Biking, walking, knitting, gardening- all are hobbies that can be enjoyed by anyone. But when people encounter difficult situations, they can transform these simple pastimes into long-term pursuits that give them a reason to keep going.

For cyclist John Funke, motivation was exactly what he needed when a cancer diagnosis threatened to end his life. “A year ago, I was in bad shape,” he recalls, “My health was at a low and I was physically depleted. My treatments damn near killed me. I couldn’t take it anymore.”

After going through three months of radiation, Funke knew that he needed a long-term goal to get him through the rest. “I thought I needed a goal that would help me build up my strength and endurance again.” And around that same time, Funke’s sister called him with the perfect opportunity.

Getting Back to His Old Self

“My sister called me up and told me that RAGBRAI was starting in my hometown this year,” he recalls. RAGBRAI stands for the Registers Annual Great Bike Race Across Iowa, and it is the single largest bicycling event in the world. “I decided that it was just kind of a dream, and I didn’t know if I could do it. I’ve ridden across Iowa five times, so eventually I knew that it was time to get back on the bicycle,” he adds.

His oncologist, Robert Miller, M.D. of Wellspring Oncology, gave his blessing two weeks after the radiation when Funke was in better condition to start training for the rally. “It was tough getting started but riding my bike is something that I’ve always loved. I considered this my goal when I was getting through cancer,” says Funke.

Current State of Mind

Cycling, which started out as a hobby for Funke, became his motivation through a terminal illness. “Now,” he says, “it’s keeping me focused and healthy to improve my physical condition and boost my morale. I started in this rally 16 years ago and come July, I’m going to do it again.”

“It was always my instinct that got me through the cancer. I had to channel a lot of energy towards getting better.” Funke is continuing his self-motivation when he rides his bike about 15-20 miles every day. And he’s not stopping there- Funke wants to inspire other cancer patients to motivate themselves with hobbies and personal interests like his.

“I hope that my story can help someone else realize their own dream and path to recovery, and continue a life that is worth living. I want to ride across Iowa again just to know that I still can. I just call it a desire to realize my own healing dream.”

For more information about WellSpring Oncology, visit