By Helen M. Ryan“When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ~G.K. ChestertonHave you ever had one of those moments when you’re talking to someone who you haven’t seen in a long time, and you realize that while you’ve been complaining about mundane things in life (stress, bills, gas prices, work)?Have you been talking to this person, only to realize that this person has been fighting for their life?I did.One of my students had been absent from Spinning® classes for a couple of years, and I finally saw her back in class. I smiled and waved at her and she waved back.Another night she was back in class again. This time, as I was walking around the room before class started, I stopped to ask how she had been doing. “Fine, now,” she replied.Thinking nothing more of it, I taught class and then left the Spinning studio. On my way towards the front door I saw her again and stopped to chat for a moment.She told me that her doctor had finally cleared her to exercise again and that her latest MRI had come back positive. Once she said that I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.As she began to tell me about her ordeal, I started to take in details I should have noticed from the previous week: the bandana over her short hair and her now-breastless chest. Oh no.True to her nature, this rider was factual and honest, but also in good spirits. She never complained and never wavered in her energy. She told me she had been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer that had also spread to her lymph nodes, her liver and three of her vertebrae.She had both breasts and some lymph nodes removed, and had received radiation (I am also assuming chemotherapy, but I was too numb—and dumb—to ask. The bandana clued me in). She showed me the irradiated skin where her right breast used to be and—once again—never complained.We talked about her future breast reconstruction (she is facing several more surgeries). She also explained how she had felt a lump a year before but her doctor had “poo pooed” it so she had let it go. She reiterated to me if I felt anything—anything—out of the ordinary to insist on a mammogram (oh, and I am past due for one myself.)As I was getting into the car I realized that this woman—a “regular” woman who had once been a consistent participant in class—had been through the unimaginable: both breasts removed. Lymph nodes removed. She had received radiation and chemotherapy layered with tons of medication. But as soon as her doctor cleared her, she was back at the gym for her health and her sanity, with a smile on her face.So when I am too tired to work out or I just don’t feel like it, I think back to this incredibly brave rider and remember that if she can show up at the gym after all she has been through, I can do it too. And I always remember to be grateful that I can still ride.Share your gratitude for Spinning! Contact us at email@example.com and tell us your story!