Last year I met dozens of people who wanted to tell me about how cancer had touched their lives. Some gave me trinkets and mementos in the name of their loved ones.

Spirit Riders

Last year I met dozens of people who wanted to tell me about how cancer had touched their lives. Some gave me trinkets and mementos in the name of their loved ones.

This year I want to honor those who are facing cancer, survivors of the disease, and those who have gone on to a place where the scourge of disease is unknown. I invite you to send me the names of “spirit riders.”

I’ll start the list with my mother-in-law, Patricia Rich, who passed away in late 2009. She had breast cancer when my husband was in middle school and some twenty years later underwent reconstructive surgery that required relocating a muscle from her back to her breast. Her recovery wasn’t complete when my oldest son was born, so she couldn’t lift him.  She lived another twenty years before the cancer she thought was in remission eventually claimed her, showing up again in her bones.

Pat was a pioneering woman in her time who raised five children, got a daily meal on the table by 5:30, earned a Master’s Degree and held  a full-time job as a nursing instructor at a Richmond, VA hospital thatl endowed a scholarship in her name.  We all wore pink ribbons to her funeral.

Please add a comment with the name and any tribute to a person you’d like for me to carry with me in spirit this summer.



About Tamela Rich

Author Tamela has extensively traveled the U.S. and Canada, delivering her message to Pack Light | Travel Slow | Connect Deep. Her keynotes and workshops include life lessons she has learned through chance encounters on the road.

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  1. Please add my mother-in-law, Kathleen Olin, who passed this past mother’s day on your spirit rider list. She wasn’t a rider, but she was (and continues to be) an inspiration. – Kelly (aka @FieryPinkGirl)

  2. You got it, Kelly. And you bring up an important point — spirit riders don’t have to be women, or bikers, or have suffered breast cancer. I promise to pray for them each night.

  3. My sister Janet Robertson

  4. Any kind of cancer, either gender. Your dad’s on the list!

  5. Darlene Siccone

    My mother,  Sandra Cline Archer.  She was an amazing woman!!  Her breast cancer was in remission for about 8 years and it came back in her bones.  She had a port put in her chest for her chemo and carried it with her.  You would never know that she was sick.  She never complained even when she got so bad that she was bed-ridden. She always said “I just hit a little bump in the road.  I”ll be up and about before you know it.”  She never recovered and died at home in her bed surrounded by her husband and children on Feb 28, 1996.   I miss her every day!  

  6. An amazing woman, indeed. She’s with me, Darlene.

  7. Sharona Nelson

    Can it be someone with another kind of cancer? If so, please carry my dad, who died three years ago on Memorial Day. He had colon cancer and he also owned an Indian motorcycle when he was young and single, post WWII. He told me how much he loved that cycle. Ride on, Tam!

  8. Whitney Hambright

    Please add my best friend, Melissa Woodward.  She had a rare form of cancer that began in her stomach and spread rapidly.  She was diagnosed in December of 2000, and by April 2001, she was gone.  She was 18 years old.  I miss her every day.

  9. Tamela, please add my wife Debbie Payne.  We are missing the Conga this year due to her battling cancer again.  We really wanted to be with you guys, but it is not in the cards, maybe next year.  Ride safe and know that you  are in our thoughts and prayers.  -Sonny

  10. Whitney, this gave me chills. Thank you for telling Melissa’s story. Her life goes on through those who love her.

  11. Yes, Sonny, you and Debbie are in my thoughts and prayers. I’ll never forget meeting the two of you in Cheyenne — you in a pink wig. Love, love, love you both.


  12. Me… Kelly Owen… Breast Cancer SURVIVOR! Thanks Tam!

  13. Tamela, Please add my sister in law. Stephanie Goggleye as spirit rider. She battled breast cancer last year  and is cancer free at this time. Her mother died from the metastasis of breast cancer 27 years ago.We juat did the 5k walk here in Seattle…the first she was able to complete. She is taking her MSF class next week at age 63!! She rocks:}

  14. Mentioned these briefly to Kareshmeh:
    My mom’s mother, who had come from N. Ireland, died when my mom Nancy was just 18. My mom was sent away to boarding school, much to her regret, just so she wouldn’t have to be around such difficult, sad times. Dora Cooke Williams’ cancer, back in early 1940’s,  became lung cancer and took her away. My mom married that year and her father stayed with our family 13 years, til I was one. I first walked during his funeral, as he had held my hand many times, encouraging me to do.
    My dad’s father was run over when my dad was 12. I lost my only other chance to know a grandparent when I was one also. His mother, Marguerite Ford Chenoweth, lived with my family too.  She held out just as LONG as she could, too long of course,  to tell anyone or go to doctor maybe even I think, as she didn’t want to upset anyone or cause any problem before I was born! Her breast cancer, like my other grandmother’s, also progressed slowly into terminal lung cancer -1957.
    In those days women were even more reticent and embarrassed I believe to share any info about or views of their womanly parts, and medical testing and care was less developed. Testing is much more advanced now, if we avail ourselves of it, but treatment is still often very difficult to endure, at best.
    My mother is an about 20-yr survivor of colon cancer, and we both have been blessed to miss the bite of breast cancer, so far. My dad Bill Chenoweth battled lung cancer bravely til 57, power-walking and communicating with his office til the day he died. He and Nancy worked to help launch the local Hospice group in Charlotte before he passed in 1978. 
    Carry on, girls. Thank you!

  15. Michael Berryhill

    Tamela, Sorry that I learned of your wonderful adventure only now, and you have already departed CLT. My wife Angela is both a biker, and a breast Cancer Survivor (11years now). We would love to be able to meet you in Flagstaff as you pass thru Arizona on 6/26 but do not know how to reach you. GOD Bless You for what you are doing, and Watch Over you and your help along your way. Mike Berryhill (

  16. You were on the list before you asked! See you at Kickstands DOWN 7/28.


  17. What a great story! I want to meet her!

  18. What a poignant and loving tribute to your loved ones, Wendy. I’m so glad society has evolved in its thinking about “womanly parts.” Wow.

  19. Mike, I’d love to meet you and Angela in Flagstaff! WOW! Ring me on 980-428-9193 and leave your contact info. We will do it!

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