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Virtual VeloSano: Local mom with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer defying odds and cycling on

Virtual VeloSano participant knows firsthand the importance of funding research, and finding a cure

CLEVELAND — Since beginning in 2014, the VeloSano Bike to Cure has raised more than $21 million for research, trials, and cancer treatment, here at the Cleveland Clinic. Now, the pandemic may have forced VeloSano to go virtual in 2020, but make no mistake, it’s not stopping the army of participants committed to the cause.

Among them is Kate Watson, a busy mom, leading an active healthy lifestyle with two beautiful little girls and a loving husband. But in 2016 she got news no woman wants to hear.

“I was diagnosed with metastatic or stage 4 breast cancer. I was 35 years old with no family history. Two young kids at home. It came out of left field,” Kate said as we talked to her via Zoom.

Credit: Kate Watson
Kate Watson was 35, in great health and with no family history when she got the news she had stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

By the time she was diagnosed, the disease had already metastasized, spreading to several other places on her body including lymph nodes in her chest, her spine, pelvis, and the bone in one leg.  Doctors determined Kate was not a candidate for surgery. Rather, they took the approach of attacking the cancer with targeted chemotherapy.

Credit: Kate Watson
Doctors ruled out surgery. Instead, they opted for targeted chemotherapy. The average life expectancy for someone with Kate's diagnosis is about 3 years. She has beaten that, and currently shows no signs of active disease, although she will need to undergo treatment for the rest of her life.

The average life span for someone diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer is just three years. Kate’s treatment results have been amazing.

“Currently there is no evidence of active disease, which is not the norm for somebody with this diagnosis. This week will actually be my 75th chemo infusion. I will be in treatment for the rest of my life because there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer,” Kate shared.

When Kate beat the average life expectancy, she decided it was time to give back to the people she really credits with helping her.

Credit: Kate Watson
Dr. Abraham and the many people on Kate's cheer team at the Cleveland Clinic got her through those dark days. Because of them, and the critical work they do, she finds the strength and energy to ride. Kate wants everyone to kow there is hope.

“Last year was our first ride with VeloSano. My husband and I both signed up for the 10-mile and it was so much fun and just so uplifting. It just felt so good giving back to the people who gave it to me,”  she shared.

Crossing the finish line of last year’s VeloSano is something Kate compares to finishing chemotherapy. She’s taking back some of the power cancer can have over your life. Her doctors and cheer team at the Cleveland Clinic by her side, throughout this journey.

“I just looked at them and saw their optimism and their determination and their hope. That I could lead a full life. And that’s why today, I want to support them because I want anybody to know that’s facing a cancer diagnosis, that there is hope,” she said.

Credit: Kate Watson
This year, Kate and her husband will lead the Beaconsfield Bikers. Family, friends, and neighbors on 20 1/2 mile loops around their street. Kate says VeloSano helps her feel as if she is taking back some of the power from cancer.

On Saturday, Kate will be joined by her family, friends, and neighbors in Rocky River. Each lap around their street is ½ a mile. The Beaconsfield Bikers will be doing 20 laps to make up a 10-mile ride.  And it’s important to point out that you don’t have to bike this year. The Virtual VeloSano allows folks to participate in any number of ways including walking, running, hiking, riding a scooter, however you like.

There is still time to get involved with the event. You can sign up here.

And check out Kate's team: The Beaconsfield Bikers.

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