DES MOINES, Iowa -- Dr. Richard Deming is known in Iowa for his work with cancer patients, now he finds himself in the hospital bed and with his own story of survival.
While training for an Ironman race Dr. Deming was riding in what's called a “pace line” just north of Altoona.
Riders line up single file with only an inch between their tires in order to draft off the leader. Deming says his group was hitting speeds of up to 28 miles per hour.
He says the man in front of him tapped tires with the rider two bikes up. The rider crashed, and Deming didn't have time to react.
“So, I ran over the poor guy and it vaulted me off my bike and I went like a lawn dart and landed on my head” said Deming.
Deming was wearing his helmet which he credits with saving his life.
“There was blood everywhere...but there wasn't brain everywhere” he said.
Deming lost consciousness. He says luckily a Mercy neurosurgeon was riding behind him and avoided the crash. The fellow doctor made sure Deming was positioned correctly and instructed a rider to call 911. When he awoke at the hospital he found out he suffered a fractured clavicle, scapula, several fractured ribs, a punctured lung, and a concussion.
“Fortunately, everything that's broken is fixable, is repairable, it'll take time” said Deming.
A radiation oncologist, Deming says he often cares for patients with incurable cancer, and that he’s putting his current pain into perspective.
“The difference philosophically is that I'm the best and every day is going to be better. So philosophically it's just you know, suck it up, it's just pain, and then figure out what you can learn from your experience” he said.
Deming is the founder of Above and Beyond Cancer, a group that takes patients and survivors on trips around the world to climb mountains. He says their trips amount to something of a pilgrimage and that pain is part of every pilgrimage; just like his road to recovery.
“Very few people go on a pilgrimage to the beaches of Cancun. There has to be some actual suffering to help put you in the right frame of mind for transformation. So hey, I'm just putting myself in the right frame of mind” said Deming.
Deming hopes his story will encourage all bike riders to wear their helmet while out on the road, trail, and everywhere in between.