Woman plans 10,000-mile Harley ride to share testicular cancer info
When it comes to testicular cancer, it seems women have the balls to talk about it.
“It’s easier to approach women and talk about testicles than men,” said Lorrie Sheley, who plans to start a nationwide 10,000-mile ride on her Harley-Davidson motorcycle this week to promote testicular cancer awareness.
Sheley’s Biker For Balls tour will begin Friday, just one day after her 50th birthday, and will include all 48 continental states.
She’ll start in Utah, stopping first to talk to the Nut-Up or Shut-Up riding group in Moab. From there, she’ll head toward New Mexico, then make her way to the Northwest, the Midwest and the East Coast. Along the way, she plans to hand out thousands of flyers which explain how to perform a testicular self-exam provided by the Grand Junction-based Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation.
“I figured if I was going to ride everywhere, I could at least try to raise awareness for something,” she said.
Testicular cancer has affected Sheley’s family twice. Her brother-in-law, Dave Schulthies, was diagnosed with stage 4 testicular cancer in his late 20s. Schulthies was a father to four young sons and a baseball coach in Fruita. He fought hard for eight years, enduring surgeries and numerous chemotherapy treatments, before losing the battle in 2004.
“We were pretty good friends,” Sheley said.
At the same time, her husband was also diagnosed with testicular cancer. Because his disease was caught early, he had surgery and survived.
Sheley, a retired nurse, used to teach health classes that included a discussion about testicular cancer.
“Only a couple of people, out of hundreds, had really ever heard about it,” she said.
It’s a subject men often have a hard time discussing, she said, so many women like herself have become advocates to raise awareness about the disease.
“You shouldn’t have to be embarrassed by it,” said Kim Jones, founder of the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation.
Jones’ son, Jordan, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at just 13 years old. Jordan was a football player who fought testicular cancer throughout his high school career. Despite a grim prognosis, Jordan graduated from Grand Junction High School this spring and plans to attend Colorado Mesa University in the fall.
“I knew I was going to be an advocate because hardly anyone else knows about it,” Jones said.
She started the foundation in 2009. It quickly became one of the largest testicular cancer foundations in the nation, she said.
Jones was particularly surprised at the number of women wanting to help raise awareness.
“I just think it’s so great because it’s the women who are talking about it,” she said.
Sheley plans to give many of her flyers to women.
“I’m gonna say, ‘Here, you should give this to a guy you care about,’” she
Sheley also will raise money for the foundation through Crowd Rise, an online fundraising website with a donation page specifically for the Testicular Foundation Awareness Foundation.
She will log her journey through Facebook at Biker For Balls.
Sheley and Jones hope the Biker For Balls ride becomes an annual event.
The Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation has a number of upcoming local events scheduled, including its 2012 Golf Benefit and Soiree Thursday and Friday.
The event will include cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Allen Unique Autos, 2285 River Road. Guest speakers will include Jay Klein, a 40-year testicular cancer survivor and Dr. Craig Nichols, a world-renowned oncologist and founding member of Livestrong. Nichols treated cyclist Lance Armstrong.
For registration and information, visit tcafinfo.org.