I am Chris Lee and this is my story.
My name is Chris, and I live in Lakeville, Minnesota with my wife Amanda (along with our two dogs). By day, I manage a team of software engineers, and in my free time I’m a cyclist and amateur musician.
I’m a relative latecomer to cycling, and only got serious about riding in 2016. But in my limited years, I have started taking riding pretty seriously. The highlight so far is racing in the 2019 Race Across America as part of an 8 person team, which was especially fun because Amanda was able to join us and crew for our team. My long term goal is to see how far I can push myself in ultra-distance cycling, and I’m planning on breaking some personal records in 2020. I couldn’t be more excited to get the opportunity to be involved with RAAM again in 2021, and doing it in support of such a great cause and with a group pulled together through our shared links to cancer will make it all the more special.
I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2002. The cancer had started to spread to my lymph nodes, so it took two surgeries and a year of immunotherapy to beat it. Along the way, the doctors also discovered a small, unrelated tumor in my thyroid, so I earned another surgery, and now I can call myself a two-time cancer survivor. Amanda and I were married in 2003, about halfway through my immunotherapy treatment.
I started riding as a way to regain control over my health. In 2015, I weighed 320 pounds. I was totally sedentary and out of shape, and at 36 years old I was beginning to see the more serious effects of that lifestyle. I was pre-diabetic and I was on pills for blood pressure. I got invited along on a mountain bike ride with some friends in the spring of 2016. I dusted off my old bike that I hadn’t ridden in a few years, and I had to stop after making it about one humiliating mile. I realized that I needed to make some changes. I hadn’t survived cancer to not take care of myself. I made a total change to my diet, and I started riding regularly that summer, and by fall I started doing indoor interval training with a great group that I met. I’ve been riding and training with them ever since.
I’m excited to race RAAM again because it is such an amazing experience, but also because it’s a great platform for fundraising and awareness. I know the years immediately after treatment were some of the hardest for me, when I was scared to be outside in the sun, and scared to make long term decisions. I know I let opportunities of all sorts pass me by. I wasn’t concerned at all about eating right or exercising because I wasn’t convinced I had much of a future. RAAM gives me the opportunity to help raise money to support research and ultimately help find a cure, and also give one example of what’s possible after surviving cancer and overcoming obesity.