A woman who grew up in New Albany did not let cancer stop her from biking the 44-mile Tanglefoot Trail.
Darlene Redding Badgley said if she can ride the Tanglefoot Trail with Stage 4 cancer, other people can do it too.
“You can tell my breathing is different when I’m riding my bike, but hey I’m still breathing and that’s a good thing,” Badgley said.
It’s all about “pacing yourself,” she added.
Badgley, 56, wanted to ride the trail before she was too sick to do it. Completing the ride from New Albany to Houston last month was an emotional experience for Badgley. She “never dreamed” she would have the energy to do it, adding that she has six or seven lesions in her lungs.
“I didn’t know if I would finish or not,” said Badgley, who now lives in Arlington, Tenn. “Slow but steady, I made it. Surprisingly, I did very well.”
A couple of days before taking on the Tanglefoot Trail, she received a call from the cancer clinic telling her that her lung lesions have started growing.
“That was a kick in the teeth,” she said. “I think I cried for two days straight.”
But she decided to go forward with the ride, saying it might be her last.
“It really made me finish it,” Badgley said.
This was Badgley’s first time to ride the Tanglefoot, and she was very impressed.
“That is the most amazing trail ever. It’s beautiful.”
She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016 and underwent chemo and radiation therapy for about a year. Cancer was then found on both of her lungs, and she spent a year doing chemotherapy in Memphis.
She said she wouldn’t wish chemotherapy on her worst enemy, adding that it was “tough” losing all of her hair and that she could barely stand up. By the time she finished her chemotherapy she had more cancer than when she had started.
Badgley went to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas last year, and the cancer had spread to her bones. MD Anderson put her on a trial of immunotherapy and radiation, and the cancer is no longer in her bones. But she still has the cancer in both lungs, and now she is waiting for MD Anderson to decide what to do next in terms of her treatment.
Badgley rode the Tanglefoot Trail on her recumbent bike to celebrate her cancer survival.
“I’ll be at five years this year,” she said.
Badgley, who is now on disability, used to treat cancer patients herself as a radiation therapist and then became a registered nurse
Her husband bought her the recumbent bike for Mother’s Day because she was having trouble with her regular bike due to the chemotherapy.
“This bike has really helped me get out and be able to get around and I’ve enjoyed it,” she said.
Badgley went on the Tanglefoot Trail journey with one of her best friends, who tested positive for the coronavirus. Her friend is over the coronavirus now, so they were both celebrating survival.
Prior to going on the ride, Badgley said she thought it would be challenging because it can be a little difficult for her to breathe sometimes.
“I’m still living, and I’m still kicking so I’m going,” she said. “It’ll be good. It’ll be fun.”
The New Albany Gazette also spoke to Badgley after she had completed the ride, and she said there was perfect weather during the journey with low humidity.
“It was a good ride,” she said, adding that she was sore that night.
They saw a snake and got chased by a dog. She said she hopes her next treatment does not make her too sick so she can ride the trail again in the opposite direction from Houston to New Albany.
Badgley graduated from W.P. Daniel High School (now New Albany High School) in 1982.
“New Albany’s a nice little town, Badgley said. “I loved living there.”
She moved to Memphis in 1992 to go to radiation therapy school. She later worked as a radiation therapist at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis and Baptist Cancer Center before going to nursing school to become an RN.
After she became an RN, she worked for a cancer research center for two years before she got sick and needed a break to take care of herself. After taking care of cancer patients in her career, she is now going through her own journey with the disease.
“I am a product of my own career,” Badgley said. “I never thought I’d be my own patient.”