• Joanna Sharpe

Britt - my "why"

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

Yesterday we lost a crew member, my spirit sista Britt, my "why" for The Long White Ride.

I met Britt less than a year ago but we hit it off strait away and became as firm friends as its possible to be. I mean why wouldn't we, she was sunshine, she was brave, funny, excitable and full of fun. She never had an excuse, she wasn't even a girl to say she didn't make excuses, then make them anyway and believe me she had every reason to.

In 2017 Britt was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer after 6 years of misdiagnosis. She had all the signs and symptoms, weigh loss, changing bowel habits, extreme fatigue but for some reason her Dr didn't see it for what it was and by the time someone did, it was too late and she was given 4-24 months to live out her dreams.

Britt wasn't resentful, although we did laugh about how the most asked question she got was "what is it like to have terminal cancer as a result of misdiagnosis" I said to her one day you should say "its awesome thanks" just to get a reaction but in typical Britt style she was gracious and kind and let any resentments go, she just lived life despite it all.

Britt spent her last 18 months doing all she could with Bowel Cancer NZ raising awareness to young people of the signs and symptoms and encouraging them to get a second opinion if things didn't feel right. Many would have taken a different approach but not Britt, she wanted to help people. She spent her time with her friends, with her beloved Cam even marrying him, her best friend, late last year. All the while Britt shared her journey in any way she could to help others, to prevent them from experiencing what she was.

Britt did things that scared her, she challenged herself. I recall our chat about setting up a "give a little page" for her to have some adventures whilst she still could when her funding was cut, a cruel blow once she married Cam. We talked about a TV interview to get the message out to New Zealanders about what she was experiencing and I have to admit we were both terrified. We joked about what we would wear, were PJs acceptable on TV1 NEWS? As was her way she looked fabulous in spite of her pain and touched the hearts of so many kiwis that we raised almost $30,000. To say she was blown away was an understatement, she was humbled by the kindness of strangers, their generosity and kind wishes. To hear her laugh and plan adventures was worth the terror of TV interviews although sadly she was not with us long enough to live out all those dreams. The unspent funds are being donated to Bowel Cancer NZ to help with ongoing awareness, as Britt wanted.

So to my "why" - Britt showed us that if we all do a little bit, just what we can, we can make a difference in this world. What I can do is ride a bike, well Im sure not the fastest, Im definitely not the strongest and Im certainly not the most talented but its what I can do.

In 2019 when the idea of a record breaking ride was put to me of course I jumped in. What better way to support Britt and Bowel Cancer NZ than to do what I can do, ride my bike in the most extreme fashion possible to raise awareness for this important cause.

It not hard to stay motivated when you have a why like this. When its been painful i remind myself this is temporary, for Britt and those like her it is unrelenting. When I doubted myself, Britt believed in me and if I was lonely on the long training rides hour upon hour in the saddle, I joked with Britt she was with me as I wore the kit designed and named after her. When I was tired I told her in my head it was her turn and the next hill was hers. To be honest I know she would have given anything to take a hill or two as the ex professional cyclist she was.

So now Britt is gone there is a fracture in my heart. I will miss her laugh, her positiviety and her kindness. I know she will still be with us, my spirit sista, and as planned, the last hill into Bluff will be hers to take.

Thanks for reading this, Britt was special, she is still my why and I hope you continue to join us on this journey to make a difference.


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