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Easton Woman Goes Extra Mile To Help Cancer Survivors

EASTON, Conn. – Lisa Sheehan goes the extra mile in support of the Connecticut Challenge. Not in the literal sense of the annual bike ride, but in the Easton woman’s involvement as a volunteer to provide meditation classes for cancer survivors.

Sheehan, along with her husband Dave and their three children, will ride in the event for the third straight year on July 28. They are members of one of the challenge’s largest teams, Ride Sally Ride . It includes 57 riders and has raised nearly $100,000 each of the last two years. The group is named after Sally Richards, a childhood friend of Sheehan’s who died of cancer in 2010.

“What I love about the ride is it’s so beautiful and relaxing,’’ said Sheehan, who has ridden 10 miles and has had family members go as far as 25. The challenge offers distances up to 100 miles. “We’re not big riders, but we love to do it. It has become like our family service project.”

After meeting ride founder Jeffrey Keith a few years ago, she offered to volunteer by leading meditation classes. The impact of the courses has been profound, both for the cancer patients and for Sheehan.

“We have some who are still in treatment, some who are done,’’ Sheehan said. “It’s inspiring. It’s neat to see the connection that these women have made with each other. I’ve had people say that doing meditation with other survivors, knowing they understand the battles and the challenges, is rewarding. They’ve been there, and they get it. People who haven’t been through cancer just don’t get that. I’m blessed that I’m able to participate in that way.”

The Connecticut Challenge, which provides free programs to assist cancer survivors, plans to open a survivorship center in Fairfield this month. Sheehan’s mediation classes will move there. “We work on relaxation through mindfulness,’’ she said. “We focus on paying attention to your body and breathing. You can take those techniques and apply it wherever you are. You can center yourself whatever your circumstances.”

Besides the connection with the survivors, Sheehan’s work with the challenge has also helped her to cope with the loss of her friend. “It’s surprising,’’ she said. “It helps me deal with the grief and the loss. The only thing that helps me is trying to do something about it. It’s not just talking about it. I’m lucky to get so much out of it. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.”

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