By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
KALONA ? Riding a bike for several miles is something many people consider a challenge, but for Minde Strief it becomes much harder as her left hip is completely gone, a casualty of sarcoma cancer.
Strife, of Sac City, who was honored as the patent honoree for the Courage Ride 2018 which left from Iowa Mennonite School (IMS) early Saturday morning, recalls suffering from back pains, for which no treatment seemed to help. After an X-ray of the area in May 2014, doctors informed her she had stage 3 sarcoma cancer in her hip. She said the cancer deteriorates the hip bone making it like tissue.
?I was a teacher at South Central Calhoun and am a mother of two,? she said. ?I played a lot of adult volleyball. I had just started getting a lot of pain.?
On May 6, 2014, the cancer was removed. A week later two more spots were found, making her go through chemotherapy. She later got an infection in her hip, causing the reconstruction of the hip that had been done to deteriorate. There is no bone left in her hip and one leg is shorter than the other, leaving her reliant on crutches to walk.
After walking with crutches for several months, she discovered one thing that made her feel as if she was normal again ? biking. She is able to leave her crutches behind and feel active again. For about two years she has been training on her bike to travel longer distances. Last year she learned of the Courage Ride to raise support and awareness for sarcoma cancer. During the 2017 ride, she and her husband traveled 16 miles.
?I decided if I could do 16 miles last year, I can come back every year and eventually make that 100-mile goal,? she said. ?This year I am doing 24 miles.?
Strife and her twin sister Melody Shepard pulled out of the IMS parking lot together at about 7 a.m. to begin their ride.
Courage Ride director Leora Houghton said 2018 marks the 14th year of the Courage Ride and the yearly bike tour of the area has grown each year. She said the tour had begun leaving from IMS a few years ago and the school has now become the official starting point for the ride.
The first year of the ride, Tom and Jackie Bailey began the ride to honor the life of their son Seth Bailey. The Courage Ride is an annual fundraiser for sarcoma cancer research at the University of Iowa.
Houghton said 85 percent of funding for seed grants in sarcoma research is provided by the ride.