In a Minneapolis basement, his head down, sweat dripping from nose and chin, Andy Thieman is turning the cranks of his Felt road bike like he means it. He’s not just training for podium fame — he’s riding for his life. Every revolution of the wheel brings him closer to a body that will see him through the effects of the poisonous chemotherapy treatments he recently began.
This last Christmas Eve, 31-year-old Thieman was informed that he had non-seminoma testicular cancer. “It’s a distraction,” he said of his cancer, “but I researched and found that active people had way less side effects.” So he’s vowed to ride his bike each day — straight through his chemo treatments. “Even if it’s only one pedal stroke when it gets bad, I want to do it [because] it gives me something to look forward to.”
Theiman decided to “raise money and turn this into something good.” So he built a blog — Blood+Sweat+Chemo — to spread the word, and in his first week he’d raised $12,000. “It just blew up!” he told me.
Blogging became his job and “riding became the interesting part about it.” By chronicling his experience, he “wants to be a resource for the next guy who gets this,” he said. “Maybe they can follow it and look into the future, maybe be comforted a little bit? And I want people to know that I’ll still have kids and my voice isn’t going to get higher.” Then, in true fighter style he stated flatly, “I’m not going to die from this — no way.”
This month, on Feb. 20, Thieman is hosting ONE ROCK RALLY, an event in Minneapolis to raise funds for LIVESTRONG. It will be at the Fulton Brewery, and participants will be “drinking Minneapolis’ own Fulton Beer and eating local nosh while listening to local bands,” as Thieman puts it.
Thieman has also signed up for the Ride for the Roses, a 90-mile bicycle event hosted by cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.
Thieman’s positive attitude is contagious. “You can soak up sympathy, but that runs out — why not be as positive as you can be with this?” After the visit last week, I left his house feeling that some day soon he and I would meet up for a ride, and that I’d positively get dropped by this cancer-beating cyclist with a fire in his belly.
Learn more about Thieman, donate, and follow his fight at Blood+Sweat+Chemo.
—T.C. Worley is a professional photographer based in Minneapolis.