Cy­cling Amer­ica to sup­port Al­pha-1 re­search ef­forts

Serve Daily - - EMPOWERING LIBERTY - By Robert Bri­g­ance Jr.

In May of 2015, I left San Francisco, Calif., for Jack­sonville, Fla., to raise aware­ness and funds for Al­pha-1 An­tit­rypsin De­fi­ciency. Al­pha-1 is a ge­netic dis­or­der af­fect­ing the lungs and liver which has no cure at this time.

Af­ter reach­ing Pue­blo, Colo., in July, I took a leave of ab­sence from my fundrais­ing effort and headed home to Springville. I was able to raise $900 dur­ing my first seg­ment (with a fi­nal goal of $1,500). My ex­pe­ri­ence was too much of a pos­i­tive life ex­pe­ri­ence not to in­clude my wife. So, I spent the rest of the sum­mer and fall pre­par­ing Linda, men­tally and phys­i­cally, to join me for the fi­nal phase of the ride. We started this prepa­ra­tion with a four-day trip to Gun­ni­son from Springville last Oc­to­ber. In your trav­els around the south end of Utah County, you may have seen two cy­clists train­ing with loaded bi­cy­cles. That’s us!

So, you might be ask­ing, what is Al­pha-1 and what are the symp­toms? Many in­di­vid­u­als with Al­pha-1 do not know they are liv­ing with it un­til tested. Af­fected in­di­vid­u­als can ex­pe­ri­ence se­ri­ous lung dis­ease as adults or liver dis­ease at any age.

More specif­i­cally, the most com­mon lung symp­toms of Al­pha-1 are: short­ness of breath, wheez­ing, chronic cough and spu­tum (ph­legm) pro­duc­tion and re­cur­ring chest colds. Liver symp­toms re­lated to the dis­or­der are: eyes and skin turn­ing yellow (jaun­dice), swelling of the ab­domen, vom­it­ing blood or pass­ing blood in the stool. The good news is that test­ing is avail­able via your fam­ily physi­cian. Early di­ag­no­sis can help an Al­pha (in­di­vid­ual liv­ing with the dis­ease), con­sider dif­fer­ent life­styles, pro­fes­sions or other per­sonal de­ci­sions that could main­tain or im­prove their health. We all want to live our lives as com­pletely as pos­si­ble.

You can learn more from the Al­pha-1 Foun­da­tion at www.al­pha-1.org.

My ex­tended fam­ily in Mary­land lives with Al­pha-1, in­clud­ing two young­sters 3 and 5 years old born with this ge­netic de­fi­ciency.They both have a full life ahead of them but will need care­ful man­age­ment of their con­di­tion. There is a grow­ing na­tion­wide community as new di­ag­noses are made.

As an avid cy­clist with more than 20 years of rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, I have done fundrais­ing rides for mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis as well as com­muted to work, done day- tour­ing in Idaho, Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia, and en­joyed a week- long tour of South­ern Utah’s na­tional parks. A cy­cling high­light was tour­ing with my wife in Provence, France. I have oc­ca­sion­ally ped­dled with the Boat Dock Ban­dits cy­cling club in Utah County. My cross- coun­try tour is my first but will not be my last.

Reflecting on my tour of Amer­ica, I am grate­ful to cel­e­brate re­tire­ment, health, faith, fam­ily and the love of cy­cling. At the same time, look­ing be­yond self, I have re­flected on how I might give back to the world community by ask­ing my­self, “What greater pur­pose can I com­bine with this epic ad­ven­ture?” Al­pha-1 came to mind and the rest is his­tory.

If you feel you might be suf­fer­ing with chronic res­pi­ra­tory and liver is­sues, please see your fam­ily physi­cian to test for Al­pha-1.

Linda Bri­g­ance and Robert Bri­g­ance Jr.

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