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Stories from the Road

Riding Alongside Becky Edison

Third-year Rider takes us along her journey through a series of moves, growing her family, and ultimately being diagnosed with cancer.

5 min read

“Everyone faces something. So just try to be as nice as possible to everyone, live in the moment, but don’t forget about the future either.”

It’s a testament to third-year BellRinger Rider Becky Edison’s determined past that she maintains this mentality. Becky’s journey to Washington D.C. has taken her from coast to coast and everywhere in between. Growing up in the Midwest, she attended Creighton University to become a CPA. There, she met her husband, who was a pre-med ROTC student. Her support system from her college days remains a foundational piece of who she is today, since her family helped her raise twin daughters at the age of 17. After a move to Washington State for her husband’s residency, Becky credits the support system of the “Medical Moms”—other wives and parents who had significant others doing their residency. It was in Washington State that they welcomed a third daughter. After another stop in the Midwest for four years, the Edisons came to DC for what was initially supposed to be a two year stay. The rest is history—18 years later, the Edisons continue to be an integral part of the DC community.

Becky’s relationship with BellRinger and Team Immunotherapy starts with her cancer journey, which led her to multiple hospitals across the DC area. As an extremely healthy adult, getting cancer was not on her bingo card. However, after a “surreal” week of MRIs and imaging in late 2018, doctors discovered a mass on her kidney and possible metastasis to her lungs. Within 10 days, she had surgery; however, the metastasis meant that further treatment was still necessary. Despite this, her mentality remained the same, noting that “you never know what you’re strong enough to go through.” Obviously, there were roadblocks—the general fatigue, hearing “I’m sorry” from doctors, and towards the later stages of her journey, a rapidly-growing pandemic and new way of life. Becky credits her medical teams, family, friends, and her own personal determination as reasons why she fought a winning battle.

“I can be a private person. Accepting help from others was hard because I’m used to being the one to help others. So stepping back and letting people take care of you was really important for my sanity and being able to fight the battle. I have four sisters, my parents, my in-laws, my extended family and friends, and of course my husband and daughters. Even moreso, our Bethesda network of friends immediately stepped up and provided support by giving rides, delivering groceries, providing meals, and keeping me company. I am forever in debt to my friends and family.”

However, as time progressed, her scans revealed that the next step in her journey would be a clinical trial. For most of her cancer journey, she had been a patient at Walter Reed Hospital due to her proximity to the center. She was recommended to Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, which brought her to Dr. Michael Atkins and the chance to join a cutting-edge clinical trial in July of 2020.

“I had to go into attack mode. I had to tell myself that I’m ready to do this. Sure the side effects give you pause initially, but I’ve been so lucky to have avoided any complications and after two years I was done with the trial. I feel so fortunate—Dr. Atkins and the team at Georgetown Lombardi have become such an integral part of my life.”

That same mentality powered her through BellRinger, too. Becky began as a Virtual Rider in BellRinger’s Inaugural Ride in 2022 at the behest of Dr. Atkins, who encouraged her to take part in the Ride and join his team—Team Immunotherapy. However, while attending the Opening Ceremony the night before and seeing the community together at once, she wished she was riding in-person the following morning. Her wish became a reality in 2023, as she rode 25 miles in-person for the first time.

“I didn’t understand what BellRinger was at first and what made it so special. But now after seeing it… how could you not want to be part of it?”

The Ride was cathartic in many ways for Becky. Her experiences and passion towards event planning provided an initial appreciation for the planning behind BellRinger Weekend, and she was able to see the omnipresent Dr. Atkins before and during the Ride. Once the countdown ended and Riders embarked from Georgetown University, she was engulfed in the little pockets of people that make the BellRinger community so special. When asked about her participation, she reflected:

“I hope everyone takes part in BellRinger, because they will love it. You get to see people on the start line, you get that tingling feeling, and you see everyone quite literally moving towards a future where cancer doesn’t exist. People are all dressed up in their jerseys and outfits. It’s so inspiring and exciting to see a community united around one cause.”

BellRinger represents a victory lap for Becky Edison—a mighty embrace of the disease she has valiantly fought and the people she met along the way. Becky will be back again taking on the 25-mile route in BellRinger this fall.

April 17, 2024

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