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Pound Ridge Woman Uses Humor to Battle Cancer

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Rica Mendes can appreciate irony as much as the next person, but she said she could have done without becoming a living example of the word.

Three years ago, Mendes, a longtime Pound Ridge resident who now resides just across the border in South Salem, became a Livestrong (aka the Lance Armstrong Foundation) leader and set out to help raise money and awareness for cancer research. Two years later, she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“That’s the irony,” she said. “The inside joke is that it’s contagious.”

Well before her own diagnosis, Mendes got involved in Livestrong thanks to the guy she was dating at the time.

“It actually came out of a bet,” she said. “I had just started cycling that summer and was dating this guy who dared me to ride 200 miles. I thought if I was going to do that, somebody has got to get paid.”

It was then that Mendes got involved with Livestrong and decided to use her 200-mile bike ride as a fundraiser for the organization.  As a Mary Kay Cosmetics employee, Mendes dedicated the ride to a co-worker who was a cancer patient at that time.

“I set out to raise $360, but we got over $1,800,” she said

It was during that ride, Mendes met someone who encouraged her not to be just a part of Livestrong, but become a Livestrong leader as well. She’s been one ever since.

Since her cancer diagnosis, Mendes has been blogging extensively about the experience . She said she’s always been a blogger, but since getting sick, the theme and tone of her writing has changed somewhat.

“It used to be about the different rides I was doing and the weird life I was leading as a mom, a bike commuter and a mountain biker,” Mendes said. “Then the blogging got more serious,” following her diagnosis.  She added that she has an “acerbic sense of humor” and the blog “took on a Monty Python-esque look at life and death. If you can’t joke about it, you will sink.

“My non-cancer friends were shocked by what I said sometimes, and I’d tell them that’s because you” don’t have cancer.

Mendes, who finished chemotherapy treatment in January, will oversee her next Livestrong fundraiser on March 14 at the Melting Pot restaurant in Darien, Conn., known as a Fondue Raiser.  The meal is $44.95 with $10 of it going toward the charity.

Those interested in donating something to the raffle or learning more about attending the fundraiser can call Mendes at 914-384-3648 or email .

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