Patient Shows Remarkable Gratitude
Woman with Cancer Rides 100 Miles and Raises $10,000 to Help Other Women
By Kermit Cantwell
Last summer, 39-year-old Lori Walker rode her bike 100 miles in the Marin Century, one of Northern California’s most challenging cycling events. That’s impressive, but even more so when you know this: She made the ride just two days after receiving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.
“I used to be fast on my bike,” she says with a laugh. “Now I’m a slowpoke.” In fact, it took her nearly 14 hours to finish, but she says one thought kept her going: I may have cancer, but I’m out here doing this just like everyone else. And though it’s not a charity event, Lori chose to make her ride into a fund raiser for the Women’s Health Resource Center at CPMC. It was there that she received warm and loving support during her recovery from multiple surgeries and ongoing chemotherapy. Because of the care she received—and the strong relationship she developed with Barb Silver, the center’s nurse practitioner and founder — Lori wanted to do something to repay their kindness.
So she set up a donation website, put out the word to family and friends, and by the day of ride she had pledges exceeding $10,000. She says the idea for the fund raiser was prompted by the fact that many services at the center are free. “I did it to help other women like me,” Lori says. “But I also wanted to make people aware that the great services the center provides depend on charitable contributions.”
Riding for Barb
She informally dubbed the trek her Ride for Barb and when Barb heard about the idea she says she cried. “I couldn’t do 100 miles on a bike if George Clooney was waiting for me at the finish line!” she says. “So for her to ride 100 miles just two days after getting a chemo treatment is amazing. She’s a wonderful woman and I love her.”
The center offers a wide range of services, and Lori has used every one of them, including personal and family counseling, acupuncture, massage, yoga, nutritional advice, social services, support groups, and consultations for wigs, skin care and makeup. The center—and Barb in particular—also offers help understanding complicated medical advice. “Most doctor appointments are only about 20 minutes, and you are bombarded with information,” says Lori. “So Barb helps me decipher what’s going on and prepares me for my next appointment by making sure I understand my options and know what questions to ask.”
But despite all of that, Lori was initially hesitant about going to the center. “I was so afraid to walk through those doors,” she says, “because going in there meant I had to admit that I really do have cancer.”
One of Lori’s friends, Colleen Lookingbill, understands how she feels. Colleen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at about the same time as Lori, and the two met in one of the center’s support groups. She says any reservations you may have will melt away as soon as you enter. “It’s such a warm, friendly haven, and the people there are so kind and caring. I don’t think I would have survived the experience without their help.”
“You can’t get this kind of support anywhere else, not even from your family,” says Lori. “That’s because they usually don’t have the necessary medical knowledge or understanding of how the system works. But more than that, they’re also really stressed out, so sharing too much information only makes them more worried.”
Lori calls the center an “amazing resource” and says Barb has been her advocate and navigator, supporting her every step of the way. “She’s sincere, warm and big-hearted. I’m blessed to know her.”
Women's Health Resource Center
One of the few facilities of its kind in Northern California, this center offers women current health information, resources for well-being and supportive care for those with cancer. Many services are free, while others are available on a sliding scale, based on ability to pay.
- Ovarian/Reproductive Cancer Recovery Program
- Boutique for Women with Cancer
- Massage Therapy
- Support Groups
- BodyLOVE Program (weight management and positive self-image)
- Mini-Medical Conference on Women’s Health
You can help make these caring, supportive services available to all women by sending a charitable donation to CPMC Foundation.
Call 415-600-4400 or visit cpmcf.org
Women’s Health Resource Center
CPMC California Campus
3698 California Street, Lobby Level
San Francisco, CA 94118
Editor’s note: Lori Walker, who was an ovarian cancer patient for three years at CPMC, died in late October 2012. At one point during her treatment, she rode her bicycle 100 miles to raise $10,000 for the Gynecological Cancer Recovery Program at CPMC’s Women’s Health Resource Center. Your gift to the program can help women in need get the same compassionate, caring services Lori received.
Lori Walker, 1972-2012
“After a courageous three-year battle with ovarian cancer, Lori died in late October 2012. Though she was off chemotherapy for only four months during that time, she succeeded in living life to the fullest. She fell in love, travelled nationally and internationally, cooked dinners for her great friends, went to many concerts and rode her bike as much as possible. She was a special patient and I will miss her dearly.”
~ Barb Silver, NP
Women’s Health Resource Center