Could a Bike Keep Someone Off Anti-Depressants After Cancer Surgery?

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: Hi there. So can riding your bike really prevent you from needing antidepressants after surgery and cancer treatment? We're gonna meet Eve Mart who is gonna tell us exactly how that happened to her. How are you doing, Eve?

Eve Mart: Great, thank you for having me.

Jim Dodson: Welcome to our livestream. So, you today are pretty, well not pretty, you are a very avid, dedicated cyclist, but that hasn't always been your story, correct?

Eve Mart: Yeah, no, I ride my bike a lot, probably always haven't, but today I do, and I plan to continue as long as I can.

Jim Dodson: So I know part of your story, and there's several things that we wanna talk about today, but part of your story is that at a young age, age 34 I think it was, you were diagnosed with breast cancer. You had a bilateral mastectomy, correct?

Eve Mart: Yup.

Jim Dodson: Because you had the gene that you don't wanna have as a woman with the propensity to breast cancer and other cancers, right?

Eve Mart: Right.

Jim Dodson: Am I telling your story correctly?

Eve Mart: Right, BRCA1 and 2, they're gene mutations that are associated with a number of cancers, including breast and ovarian.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, 'cause you had it through your mom, had a similar experience.

Eve Mart: Yes.

Jim Dodson: And it kind of prompted you to make that decision. So I know at the time that you had your original cancer diagnosis, you were not really a serious cyclist, but you were fit, you were running, you were doing other things. You made it through that period, but then later you had to have your ovaries removed.

Eve Mart: I did, that was a personal choice to my reduce my risk of a second cancer, I decided to have an oophorectomy, which kind of impacted my life in a way that was very severe and immediate.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, so, quite frankly, I wasn't aware of the term surgical menopause. But when you think about it, you have ovaries that are producing hormones, you have a surgery, they're no longer there.

Eve Mart: Right.

Jim Dodson: And you are cast immediately into menopause, really. Essentially, correct?

Eve Mart: Yeah, I was forced to, it was horrible, for me.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, right. I think your story is not uncommon for many, many women, unfortunately,

Eve Mart: No, probably not.

Jim Dodson: Have to make very difficult choices with gene mutations and trying to beat the odds of having difficult cancers. But part of the story that I wanted to talk to you about today is that at the time that you made that decision to have your ovaries removed and you became postmenopausal, suddenly, that was a cascade of consequences in your life, physically, like emotionally, sleep, physically there's just the constellation of changes that occur particularly, I would imagine, when you have it done surgically and it happens overnight, not gradually as most women experience.

Eve Mart: Yeah, that's fair. I would look at the clock and just I couldn't wait until it was close to a reasonable hour where I could go out and ride my bike because I wasn't sleeping. So if it was five, 5:15, okay, I can go out now. I just wasn't getting any relief in any other way.

Jim Dodson: And part of the problem for the surgical menopause is pretty commonly depression, and I'm sure you went through that as well from what you and I have discussed. Yeah, and you were determined you were not gonna take medication for it.

Eve Mart: No, I'm not typically a down person, so I knew that wasn't me, and that also having been through so much, medications, those little orange pill bottles, I just don't want them anywhere in my house. So, I just knew that I was gonna find another way, even if it meant muscling my way through it, I would get through it, but it wasn't going to be through modern medicine, for me.

Jim Dodson: So, I understand that everybody, you know, I talk to clients all the time in our practice, you have your life and you have a case, and in your situation, you've got a medical situation and you've got a life to live, and so what are the choices you're gonna make that you're gonna, you know, muscle your way through both? So talk to us, by the time you had the surgery for your ovaries, you transformed yourself into a pretty active cyclist, and how the use of the bike kept you balanced and even and how you went through without reverting to a pill.

Eve Mart: You know, I probably got back on my bike a little sooner than I should have, but I needed it for my mental health at that point, and I just knew that it made me feel alive, free, I think bicycles are freedom, and just maybe even distracted, you're almost forced to unconsciously engage in the world. You don't have your phones out, you're not distracted by the computers or any other electronic devices, and it kept my mind, you know, engaged, whether it's dodging cars which we don't always like to do, but really enjoying, you really get to see the landscape of the roads and the world you live in. On a bicycle, you can cover much more territory than just a walk or a run, and certainly not from a car at 50 miles an hour, you're gonna really see the potholes and the terrain and the people's faces and I love it. I just love it, I always feel better when I come back.

Jim Dodson: Well, I'm from Pinellas County, which is pretty urbanly dense, and you're from Broward County, correct?

Eve Mart: I actually live on the cusp of Miami-Dade, so I either can go, I have options, I can go south or north, but both of them are a little hairy.

Jim Dodson: Right.

Eve Mart: But I love it.

Jim Dodson: You deal with traffic a lot, and currently I know you're a 10,000 mile-per-year rider, is that correct?

Eve Mart: Mm-hm, that's correct. About eight to 10.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, that's just serious mileage and I think it's fascinating and I think it's encouraging and freeing for women particularly to know that, and I think this applies to men too that have other issues, that there is a way to get through life without taking medication if you can control what you are going through, through exercise, fresh air, you know, that freedom that you talk about, that release of freedom to be out and riding as much as you can.

Eve Mart: Oh, absolutely, that goes unrefuted. I have so many friends that have been going through, it's not just me, everyone's going through life, whether it's divorce or illness or something, the bike is a lifesaver, it just is, I know it has been for so many people, including myself.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, and I know that, so talk about, you have, you're from Broward County, and what is your work? You have some flexibility to ride before work.

Eve Mart: I have some forced flexibility because it's a priority to me. I'm the vice president of grants and administration at a very large non-profit. Thankfully, my COO has been a huge supporter of my cycling and while my CEO would probably like me to be in the office at seven, that'll never happen. I'm accessible, you can call me from the phone, I can text, but I am not gonna be in the office at seven. I like to do something for myself first, and then I will be yours for the next 10 hours. My bike comes first, and I make no apologies for it. I come first.

Jim Dodson: So you give yourself a 20-mile ride or so pretty much every day,

Eve Mart: At least.

Jim Dodson: Before work unless there's really super something you gotta do.

Eve Mart: Oh yeah, obviously, I don't want to get fired, and I have to support my bicycle habit. If I have a scheduled meeting or a presentation or something, of course, I have no problem being there and being there on time and showered. But for the most part, the day-to-day, yeah, I like to get in, and even some days I'll just up a little earlier. That's fine. I'd rather not go out in the dark by myself for 40 miles, but I will, you know, it's okay. I try to be reasonable, but I'm still gonna get my bike ride in, somehow. It's a priority.

Jim Dodson: You made an interesting comment, you know. I'm fortunate I live in a place where I can watch the sunrise every morning, which I typically do. I don't necessarily want to be on the bike at sunrise, but I know you do.

Eve Mart: I do.

Jim Dodson: And you made an observation about people at sunrise, too, which is interesting, so tell me about that.

Eve Mart: I also like to be on the bike at sun, well, I like to be out at sunrise, but I also like to be on the bike. So, you know, we'll ride over to Hollywood Beach, which has a really nice boardwalk, and there's other people out there with their cameras, ready to capture the moment, and they're drinking their coffee, and they have smiles on their faces, and for whatever reason, that little strip of land is always, it's a bit of a happier place than maybe the drivers on the road that are on their way to work, unfortunately. But it's a blessing and a curse, we're all happy to be gainfully employed, but people on the beach are always a little bit happier, a little more friendly, a little, you know, we're all there enjoying the sunrise together, so it's like shared commonality. Different modes of transportation, but.

Jim Dodson: So, it's a different crowd, you feel less threatened, I would think, by hostility and aggravation of drivers, that time of day, although you certainly have had your fair share of that down in Broward, I'm sure.

Eve Mart: We do, yeah. Riding north or south, out west, anywhere you go, it is a challenge. In my area, it's a bit of a vertical landscape, so you've got condos and more and more people in a smaller area, and you have so many rats in a cage, of course there's gonna be some frustration, especially when you are in a position of having to share the road. But we've done a really good job, I think, recently working with the local municipalities, they've been super receptive to kind of supporting a cycling-friendly infrastructure. So I appreciate that. Yesterday, the city of Hollywood, they granted a proclamation in honor of Florida Bike Month, which is March, and the city of Aventura did that about three weeks ago, as well. So, you know, on a local level, we really have been engaging our local politicians, and they've been pretty supportive about it.

Jim Dodson: That's good, that's awesome.

Eve Mart: Yeah, it's a start.

Jim Dodson: So I want to talk to you about, you've also, we're gonna transition, but I need to say something first about your work promoting causes, breast cancer, MS, and other things, and you're quite a grassroots organizer of events. But before we leave this topic, I know that there are a number of women who would hear this talk today we've having, who may be suffering or going through something that's really causing stress in their life, whether it's family-related, divorce, illness, other financial issues. So just kind of describe your experience with a commitment, that you did not want to get on the medication, which is an easy thing to do, and maybe some insights you would have for how that went for you.

Eve Mart: For me, cycling obviously is something that I love. I think it's really important though for anyone, for everyone, for people to find something that they love so passionately that it becomes, you know, it's part of who you are and it allows you to move forward in a positive way. It's a little bit, it borderlines addiction, but I feel like it's a positive one, passion.

Jim Dodson: That's okay, there's worse things you can do.

Eve Mart: It's okay, right? But I think if you recognize that maybe some days it's just enough to get up, but I think it's important to push yourself to get out, even if it means reaching out to a friend. Go for a walk on the beach, you'd be surprised how much it lifts you up. Kind of break up the day-to-day grind somehow. You have to take care of yourself. Other people can encourage you, but I did find with my cancer diagnosis, at the end of the day, I was alone with my thoughts and that's how it is. You have to be your own best champion, advocate, and don't let anybody else tell you otherwise. You know, unless it's positive, and then in that case keep them around you.

Jim Dodson: And you've done other things. Cycling can be a very singular sport if you choose to make it, or you can ride with others and make it much more of an intimate sharing. I know you do both from our conversation, but in the past, you've done other things too. I mean, you've done dragon boats and canoeing and you might just mention your experience there. It doesn't have to be all cycling.

Eve Mart: No, you know, it's interesting. The dragon boating I got into through a friend and it was actually a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team. I'm kind of competitive though, so even though it was a very competitive team, I was quite a bit younger than a lot of the other ladies on the team and I ended up defecting to a co-ed team, but either way, I stayed in. And being able to spend a couple hours out in the water, it's again, you see dolphins, I live in south Florida, we live in Paradise. If you can get away from some of the inner city stuff, it's just amazing what you can see if you open your eyes. So the dragon boating was awesome, but I found that I really enjoyed being on my bike. I gotta be honest though, some days the best part of being on my bike is stopping for coffee with my friends.

Jim Dodson: Right, right, no, I know. I know the experience.

Eve Mart: Yeah, it's a coffee ride. Those are my favorite. Tomorrow's our best ride. It starts the weekend, we meet our friends in Fort Lauderdale, it's awesome.

Jim Dodson: You've been through running, right? You were a runner at one point.

Eve Mart: Not a great runner, but yes, I did a few half-marathons, none of them successfully, well, successful in the sense that I finished, but two hours and 15 minutes does not really make me a runner, does it?

Jim Dodson: Well, I think it does. I think anybody that runs one mile a day is a runner in their own mind, and that's really what we're there for. I think your competitive juices are talking right now.

Eve Mart: Yeah, I know. I should start running again and see if I can get it under two hours, but it'll be painful.

Jim Dodson: I ran for many, many years and I don't really have a desire to do distance running anymore. I still enjoy interval running, but, you know, long-distance running just sort of beats you up after a while, I think.

Eve Mart: It does.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, for me personally.

Eve Mart: Yeah.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, so, you know, I want just to speak to anybody who's listening out there on a little self-promotion. We get calls frequently from people and it's interesting to me that someone who's been in a serious cycling crash, many times is unclear whether they have a claim that should be or ought to be pursued, and it's pretty common for people to call and want to talk about their situation, explain their injuries, explain how it happened. Sometimes, someone might have insinuated that they were partially at fault, or maybe it was a hit-and-run and they don't know if you can bring a claim against a phantom vehicle. There's a lot of situations that arise where people have a lot of questions, and I think that one of the things that I would encourage you to do is just call and talk about it. We are dedicated to helping any cyclist, we're dedicated obviously to help anyone who calls the office, whether you have a cycling crash or a motor vehicle crash and you're concerned about whether you might have a case. I'll tell you if you do and I'll tell you if you don't. I'll tell you if you can handle it on your own, or I'll tell if you really would be better off for someone who is a professional lawyer to handle it for you. So don't be hesitant to call, there's never a charge and there's never any obligation, and we're here for everyone regardless of where you are in the state. So, Eve, I want to just talk a minute about your work in the non-profit world. Harris, I appreciate you joining in here, Harris, and he loves your excitement and your enthusiasm. I mean, Harris does.

Eve Mart: I'm pretty highly charged,most of the time. Except when I'm sleeping, and then I'm like really quiet.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, well you're definitely a high-energy person, I can tell that from our talk. And you've been affected by MS through your mother, correct? So you've a real affinity towards the MS rides. You've been affected by breast cancer through your mother and through your own life. You've got a very strong affinity towards breast cancer. So, tell us what you've done in terms of, you know, supporting, organizing, and doing these benefit rides.

Eve Mart: Yeah, those are the two that are nearest and dearest to me personally. My mom has been living with multiple sclerosis for 40 years. It was really important to me to support the MS ride to the Keys. Well, that's her local ride. Even when I wasn't a cyclist, that was a goal. So, when I did the MS 150, I was super excited about that, that was a huge goal. So I did that repeatedly for the next few years, I think this year I might do the one in Citrus County just to have a different landscape. And also the ride that I started was for breast cancer, obviously. There were no cycling events in my area that supported breast cancer in any way. So I thought, all right, I can do that. I can start a little ride, I've got a few friends, they'll support that. I didn't realize how quickly that would grow. Year one, within two weeks, a friend of mine had helped me, she and I raised about $5000, a couple hundred people, maybe not even that many, I don't recall. Supported by bike shops, individuals, friends, and then the next year, we were much more legit and planful, we had time, and we raised maybe 15 or so, and that grew this year, there must been 5 or 600 people, and we raised I think $35,000, so over five years we've raised about 100,000 to support a small non-profit that provides access to healthcare screenings and education for women who otherwise can't afford it. And I think that's unconscionable. The type of cancer that I had was more prevalent in the African-American and Hispanic community, and the outcomes are worse for that population, and that's not okay and that's primarily due to lack of screening, and I wanted to help where I could. I'm in a position to be able to do that, I love to ride my bike, you can partner your passion with purpose and really turn it into something pretty significant. I don't know if I'm gonna keep it going because of the logistical challenges and because the ride I organize is unique in that we have no fundraising minimum, and it is solely supported through the help of others and voluntary donations. And there's some tremendous help. Our local mobile bike service, Velofix, has been a huge champion and supporter, a couple bike shops, individuals will just write me a check for some of the logistical stuff, and I put this ride together with nothing, and yet it always becomes so significantly impactful on so many individuals who will contact me before, after, during, and say, "Hey, good job, I love that you do this." My mom is a survivor, my grandmother died, I could not believe how many people breast cancer has impacted in a negative way, in a positive way, I don't how to look at it, but they show up and it makes a difference.

Jim Dodson: So, two things. There is a big groundswell of support by people who want to support a cause, whether they have been touched or their family member has been touched, they want to support that cause, and that's what you tapped into when you were doing those rides, is that correct?

Eve Mart: I think so, yeah. I was surprised at how many other breast cancer survivors were out there in year one. We would do a raffle, you know, we raised all of our money through voluntary donations and a raffle. There were a few that would come up to me if they won something and be like, "Oh, I'm a survivor of breast cancer, a survivor also." And I was like, "Oh, my gosh, yay!" And we're all out there riding bikes and trying to just keep our head above water because those same individuals will reach out to me throughout the year, "Hey, I had a little problem with this, "have you ever experienced that?" Cancer is the gift that keeps on giving. And then there's other things associated with some of the treatment that doesn't really go away, but it's okay, we're here, you know. It's okay.

Jim Dodson: So the other thing is, I know that, you know, it's one thing to do a ride in a rural county, we do some things in Sarasota County and some counties down by south of there. It's a little simpler, quite frankly, to have a ride where you only go through three major intersections, in a 40 or 50-mile ride.

Eve Mart: Right.

Jim Dodson: Another thing to do it in Broward Country, where virtually every block is a major intersection. So if you get into hiring law enforcement for all of that, it can a daunting task, financially.

Eve Mart: Yeah, and that's where I'm at right now. I don't feel comfortable continuing the ride without more support from law enforcement, and I inquired, I made the calls, I reached out to different municipalities. But basically I was told that, "You don't have the resources, "and we don't have the manpower." And that was for one particular year, but that is true in the sense that it will eat up our entire fundraising effort and I do not want to have to charge a registration fee because I know with the other rides, and I've done my homework, the other rides charge a certain entry fee and then they do donate a portion, perhaps, but that portion is like, six to 10%. That's not okay with me. For me, 100% has to go to the cause, and I don't know how to continue to do that.

Jim Dodson: Really admirable. Another interesting thing that you talked about which I thought was really touched me was, you were contacted by a friend at a bike shop saying, "Hey, listen, you probably need some support for this ride," and you were like, "Why do I need support? "Everybody seems ready."

Eve Mart: Everybody knows how to ride a bike!

Jim Dodson: So tell us a little about that.

Eve Mart: It was a women's ride, and I had sort of started riding really well, or really more often. And I ride independently, I know how to change a tire, I know how to fix some things. So I thought, oh, I want to get more women out there on their bikes, and they can feel, it's very intimidating to, as a woman, just starting out, to join a local ride that they're not prepared for. They don't have the bike-handling skills perhaps, they certainly don't have the ability to hold the threshold and if you get, it could go crazy very quickly. So I thought a safer environment, you know, hey, it's a women's ride, all-women, straight-up A1A and back, easy! A bike shop owner who's been around for probably 30 years, he's a great guy, he said, "Hey, Eve, what are you doing to provide support?" I'm like, "I don't know, I'll be out there." We have different pace groups, I made it very clear everybody is to bring their own supports in terms of bring a tube and your toolkit, water, enough water to get you to the rest stop, and what's the problem, what's the big deal? And he was like, "Yeah, I'll come out there anyway." And sure enough, yeah, he was right. Women showed up with their bicycles that weren't necessarily with pumped tires, they didn't know what air pressure, so it was a learning experience, and so, of course, going forward I provided a little more support on the rides. Or I gave a warning that there will be no support, this is a drop, you know, self-supported ride, so we will see you at the end and we will go out for drinks.

Jim Dodson: I think that the important message here is that you had the foresight to just, as Nike would say, "Just go do it."

Eve Mart: Just do it.

Jim Dodson: I mean, when you jump in, you're going to learn. You're gonna sink or swim, and you're gonna survive and you're gonna learn and you're gonna make it better every year, which is exactly what your experience was.

Eve Mart: Right, yeah, for sure. I know we've been able to, with the breast cancer ride, that one is much more planful. The others are just kinda ad hoc on the weekend, not a very big deal. But the breast cancer ride, the most important thing to me is safety, and given the climate down here of late, I'm a little concerned about being responsible for five, 600 people leaving a park. And you know, you try to the best you can, in terms of staggering the starts dependent upon speed, providing a SAG vehicle for each of the groups, having rest stops every 20 or so miles. You do your best, but I hold my breath until every last rider is in.

Jim Dodson: Well, that's a major ride. I mean, five or 600 cyclists is a major ride. I know we… There's different clubs that we're involved in that put on a ride with five or six or 700, and they've got literally dozens and dozens of volunteers out of the club

Eve Mart: I know.

Jim Dodson: doing everything under the sun, and you're doing it, really.

Eve Mart: I know, me and a girlfriend of mine, who's not even a cyclist, and she curses me every time she has to wake up at like four o'clock in the morning, we have to be out there at five. Cyclists are so passionate about what they do, the ride starts at 7:30, you don't need to be here at five o'clock, but they're there at five o'clock, "Hey, can I help? "Is there anything I can do to set up? "You know, I brought some donuts, I brought coffee." This is the one grassroots ride in the community that people just pitch in, and I think there's no, I don't like to charge for one reason. I don't want any expectation. So don't ask me where your medal is, or expect a patch or a t-shirt. I'll give you a t-shirt, if you really want a t-shirt I'll find a t-shirt for you. But that's actually one of the ways that I would support funding it at the beginning. I would have a t-shirt made up. I have a friend for everybody, for everything, rather. There's always a guy to do, or a woman, who can help you with anything. So I have a good cycling buddy, he does t-shirts, and they kindly, in year one or two, helped fund the t-shirts so that the proceeds would go to allow us to submit permits and get insurance and all those things that I didn't want to have to come completely out of pocket for, that's not fair. But either way, it was very successful for five years. Every year I say I'm not gonna do it again, and then I have people emailing me and texting me and sending me messages, "Hey, what's the date of the ride this year? "I want to make sure I'm there." I'm like, oh, please don't make me do it again. I don't want to.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, so what does the future hold for you in terms of grassroots cause-supported work, for MS or breast cancer?

Eve Mart: I don't know. I committed to myself to continue the breast cancer ride for as long as my mom was fighting metastatic breast cancer. And I think statistically only one in five women makes it beyond five years, and my mom has made it more than five years and she kind of let me off the hook. You know, my dad said, "You really don't have to do the ride "anymore if you don't want to, I think you're done." So I appreciate that and we're very fortunate that she beat the odds, and that's something I always told myself, I'm not a statistic, you're not a statistic, we are not statistics. Every case is different.

Jim Dodson: Yes. Well, Eve, this has been a great conversation and I know that you have message that will help many, many people, and we're gonna encourage people to get your network, to see what you're saying, we'll promote it as best we can. We're gonna offer our Uninsured Motorist book, if you go to bit.ly/FloridaUMBook, we'll get you our Uninsured Motorist book. If you aren't familiar with it, it will open your eyes to insurance you absolutely have to have on your car that will protect you on your bike, and this is a message that many people don't understand until they have their first accident, and then they realize they probably didn't understand the need for uninsured motorist coverage. So my message to cyclists is get Uninsured Motorist and don't leave home without it. Eve, I hope that will be information for you too. We haven't talked about your uninsured motorist needs but I'll give you a copy of the book.

Eve Mart: I did talk about it with someone in your office.

Jim Dodson: You need to look at that.

Eve Mart: I do.

Jim Dodson: All right.

Eve Mart: Thank you so much.

Jim Dodson: Well, thank you very much for joining us, it's been a great conversation, you've been very inspirational and energetic, and I just loved meeting you.

Eve Mart: Thanks, Jim, I appreciate the opportunity. I really do.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.