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One year later (or, Remembering Colleen)

October 4, 2010

One year ago today, I received the call that a longtime friend and teammate, Colleen Wheldon-Haught had lost her battle with breast cancer, at age 31.  We knew her condition was terminal, and she had gone home to WA state to be with her family during her last weeks, but it is still a shock to know that such a life was cut tragically short.  She was originally diagnosed at age 26, and went into remission after chemotherapy and a double mastectomy.

Colleen's first race after going into remission, March 2006

She finished law school at the University of Arizona and moved up the ranks of womens cycling in Arizona.  It was my privilege to be her teammate, and we raced numerous races together over three seasons and became friends.  We weren’t BFFs, but we socialized regularly and her presence was always enjoyable

Working hard at Build-a-Bike, December 2007

The last time I talked to Colleen was at her 31st birthday party on Aug 8, 2009.  She was cheerful on the surface, but she had an undercurrent of desperation, as the cutting edge treatment she was undergoing was not having an effect on the spread of her cancer.  I remember talking to my brother the next day, upset and almost unable to process what it must be like to be facing death at such an age.  Colleen was older than me, but younger than my brother.

Colleen also shared her birthday with another friend of mine, who was glowingly 8 months old pregnant with her first baby on that same day.  Two beautiful women at the peak of their lives, but one of them had a child on the way and a lifetime of joy while the other one was less than two months from her grave.  Even thinking of it now makes me want to stomp my feet like a two year old and insist that IT’S NOT FAIR.  During her life, Colleen touched a lot of lives and she is dearly remembered.

Her friends and teammates started a cycling team in Colleen’s honor, intended to help other cancer victims and cancer survivors finish distance cycling events.  This is a great video about Colleen and the team named for her.  I like to remember Colleen this way, riding her bike and cheerful:

Double fisting recovery food, April 2009

RIP CWH:  8/8/78 – 10/4/09

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