RALEIGH, N.C. — Beating cancer is hard — especially when you have to work on defeating it a little bit every day. Fran Powell has been doing just that, off and on, for more than 10 years.
What You Need to Know
Fran Powell has battled endometrial cancer off and on since 2010
The cancer spread from her uterus to her lungs
Thanks to advances in medicine she no longer endures chemotherapy and radiation
She is riding for a cure as part of the V Foundation’s MyVictory Month Ride
Now, she spins the tread on her tires to help find a cure.
Powell was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2010. She lived through it coming back in 2015, and she has been fighting its latest return since 2017. She refuses to let the cancer run her life, so dates of past radiation and chemotherapy treatments don’t stay on her mind.
“I can’t remember because I don’t think about this is the year I got chemo. This is the year I got cancer. I just live my life. I just wake up and say ‘it’s just another day,’ and do my thing,” she said.
Powell is now an avid cyclist in her free time. The 66-year-old navigates the disease and advances in medicine like a bike path as she rides a mile of road at a time. She said when the doctor first told her cancer cells were growing inside her body, she almost didn’t think it was real.
“I almost didn’t believe him. I was like, ‘I feel fine’. I didn’t even wanna think I had cancer,” Powell said.
Biking keeps cancer off her mind.
“It is incredibly freeing to be riding on the bike, to have the fresh air,” she said.
She no longer needs the chemotherapy and radiation treatments because her doctor prescribes her medicine for hormone therapy.
Powell said she takes pills twice a day, of either the Megace and tamoxifen, which she alternates between every three weeks.
“I just have such a respect for the research side of medicine. My doctor already said to me, don’t worry. If this doesn’t work, we will have something else,” she said.
Powell was an easy sell on the power of modern medicine because she is a former nurse. She explained how her trust in the benefits of proper medical techniques could benefit her life as well when the cancer in the lining of her uterus spread to her lungs.
“I just think, life is too short to be letting that hang over your head all the time,” Powell said.
Her mantra is to focus on what’s going right.
“Your life is what you make it. So if you focus on negative things, then you have a negative day,” she said.
Not all cancers are the same, and simply because you have it doesn’t mean you have to stop being mobile.
“You can be someone who has a good quality of life,” she said.
Powell said at times throughout lockdown, the pandemic felt like it got in the way of her quality of life.
But her boyfriend, John Kenny, bought her an electric bike last year to help lift her spirits.
“We have had a lot of things between the two of us go on, and I have had some issues, and Fran has been there for me, and I hope that she has had some issues and I have been there for her,” Kenny said.
How she is helping make a difference
Now, the 10-year cancer survivor is burning rubber for the V Foundation as part of the MyVictory Month event.
Every cyclist is riding for a cure by raising a minimum of $250 for cancer research.
“It’s just exciting to me that research is supported, because that’s just one of the things, that when it comes to cancer, unless we find a cure we have to get better at the treatments,” she said.
Powell said her story can be a ray of hope for cancer patients looking for sunshine.
“For people going through treatment, sometimes it is hard to know you are going to come out on the other side, and it is going to be OK,” said Powell.
Because to her, there’s too much road to ride to be afraid of what may or may not happen in life.
The day of the in-person ride for MyVictory Month event is August 28, and riders can choose from 10, 30, 60 or 100 mile long routes.
Every cent raised goes to research at Duke Cancer Institute, UNC Lineberger, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and more.