02.13.2012 | 2:26 pm

A Note from Fatty: I’m working on telling the story that will eventually be in the book, Fight Like Susan. Click here to read the previous post in this series.

I felt a strange mixture of disgust and relief. Disgust with the company, and relief that I had found out what kind of people I would have been working for, before I had joined them and moved to New Jersey.

Mixed in with that was a pretty big chunk of fear. I had four children, a wife with cancer, and a job that wasn’t paying the bills today — and I honestly didn’t know if I would still have any job at all within a few months. Or weeks. Or days.

Then, on the first working day of the new year, I got a call from Microsoft.

“We think there’s a job here that fits you a lot better than the first one you interviewed for,” she said. “Could you fly down for a day of interviews?”

Not wanting to start down a dead-end road, I told her, “You should know my wife just got diagnosed with breast cancer.”

“I’m so sorry,” the recruiter replied. “We can do the interviews later if you need.”

“No,” I said, still thinking about how my hopes for a new job had just gone belly up and not wanting to start down a path that wouldn’t go anywhere. “I just wanted to make sure that this isn’t going to be something that affects whether you can hire me.”

“Of course not,” she replied. “Usually I don’t go into our benefits ’til we’ve made an offer, but when you’re here, let’s set aside some time to talk about our health coverage. I think you’l find that it’s the best there is. Anywhere.”

Inside Track

Within a week I was at Microsoft for one of their famous interview circuits, where the first person who interviews you takes you to the next person who interviews you, who takes you to the next, and so forth.

You can kind of tell how you’re doing as you’re interviewing, because at any point during the day of interviews the person you’re talking with can say, “Thank you for your time,” and that’s it. You’re done.

If you make it to the lunch hour interview (where a person interviews you while you eat in the cafeteria), you’re doing pretty well. If you make it to the end of the workday, you’re doing really well. And if you make it to the secret-bonus interview where you talk with someone a couple levels above who you’d be reporting to, you’re at least a finalist.

I managed to stay sharp throughout the day (not as easy to do as you might think when you’re being interviewed by 6-8 very precise thinkers). During the five or ten minutes between interviews I’d sit in the lobby, awkwardly conversing with the other person who was interviewing for that job that day.

I did not tell this person that I had an inside track — the person who was the hiring manager for this position (Matt Carter) had been my manager once before, in another company.

And I’m pretty sure that he had written the position with me in mind.

I got called into the secret-bonus interview, had a good conversation about mountain biking and how riding in Utah was different than Washington, and then the day was over.

Nothing to do but wait, now.

I went back to the hotel, drained, and ordered room service. I called Susan, told her how things had gone, and that I was about 70% sure I had gotten the job. But all I could talk about was the medical coverage.

“Everything’s covered at 100%,” I said. “You can go to any doctor you want. Get any prescriptions we need. We wouldn’t pay a dime for any of it.”

“No way,” Susan said.

Susan and I agreed that even with this possibility, we couldn’t put off her mastectomy. It needed to happen right away — later that week, in fact.

Next, I got a call from my friend / former manager, asking me how I felt the day had gone.

“Really great,” I said, truthfully. But Matt could tell something was up and asked what the problem was.

“Susan’s got breast cancer.”

“Oh shit.”

“I know.”

Then Matt said something that stuck with me, maybe because he honored the statement so literally in the coming years: “Tena and I will take care of you guys.”

In a way, it was my first glimpse into how incredibly generous people can be.


  1. Comment by Dan.weise | 02.13.2012 | 2:50 pm

    Wow. So powerful. I am moved and speechless.

  2. Comment by GenghisKhan | 02.13.2012 | 2:52 pm

    Ditto on Dan–great and powerful attestation to the kindness that lurks in all of us, just closer to the surface for some! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Comment by Chris | 02.13.2012 | 2:54 pm

    Great piece…..Susan, you and your family are an inspiration. Thanks

  4. Comment by Bob | 02.13.2012 | 3:01 pm

    Wow. in two entries, I can feel the power of this story (thank in part to the skills of the storyteller). I know this will be a difficult tale to tell, but look forward to reading it. With some tissues nearby. Stay strong.

  5. Comment by Gabi | 02.13.2012 | 3:04 pm

    Ditto to the wow. Thank you for sharing these stories. No one should have to lose a job while taking care of their family. I’m glad you found a supportive place.

  6. Comment by Darren | 02.13.2012 | 3:05 pm

    Every story you tell, you tell with such emotion, it immediately draws you in.

  7. Comment by Erik Stoneham | 02.13.2012 | 3:19 pm

    Ever once and a while there is some glimpse that humanity is still there and we can do better by each other.

    Thanks Fatty!

  8. Comment by rich | 02.13.2012 | 3:20 pm

    Wow, the kindness of some people never ceases to amaze me…

  9. Comment by maralee | 02.13.2012 | 3:34 pm

    Keep writing…I’m hanging out here in Florida!!

  10. Comment by Jeff Bike | 02.13.2012 | 3:38 pm

    As I sit here crying, my mom is a Breast Cancer survivor. I wish nobody got that, or at least that they all could be survivors.

  11. Comment by Scot | 02.13.2012 | 3:53 pm

    These stories give me goose bumps. When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer she was given 9 months. She beat it back for 5 years- fought like hell.

  12. Comment by briebecca | 02.13.2012 | 4:04 pm

    Is Matt Carter the MattC we sometimes see in the comments?

    No, that’s another great guy: Matt Chapek, one of the Team Fatty Co-Captains. – FC

  13. Comment by Erik S | 02.13.2012 | 4:06 pm

    Ouch. Been there done that.

    I can’t recall a more hollow feeling as a man than losing your job due to a failing company with young kids, and a wife who desperately needs treatment that will cost more than you can possibly afford.

    That being said, I really like how this was ended on a high note, and look forward to further updates.

  14. Comment by Christina | 02.13.2012 | 4:27 pm

    This writing is so powerful and so well written I want to keep reading…but I almost don’t want to keep reading, because I know how it ends. I’m going to keep praying for you to have the strength to keep telling the story, because it is so overwhemingly powerful.

  15. Comment by Michael | 02.13.2012 | 7:23 pm

    Really good stuff, Elden. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Comment by stuckinmypedals | 02.13.2012 | 7:37 pm

    Thanks, Fatty. Just thanks. I needed to read a story about the ‘kind’ in humankind today.

  17. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 02.13.2012 | 11:36 pm

    Christina sums it up best. Those of us who have been following for a while know how it ends. We also know the power of the author because when he asks, we do.

    I believe that you have inspired all of us to FIGHT LIKE SUSAN in everything we do.

    Thank you Elden. And thank you Susan’s children for having such parents.

  18. Comment by buckythedonkey | 02.14.2012 | 1:45 am


  19. Comment by MellowJonny | 02.14.2012 | 8:34 am

    Wow, great story Elden. I am so going to get the book.

  20. Comment by Shep | 02.14.2012 | 8:37 am

    Einstein once said “it would appear our technology has surpassed our humanity”. For the past few years, I wholeheartedly believed that. I was diagnosed in 2009 with non-Hodgkins lymphoma of both my parotid glands (the largest of the 3 salivary glands). 91 days later I was unemployed from the Fortune 100 company I worked for (FMLA only protects your job for 90 days here in FL). I won’t go into all the chemo and that stuff, suffice it to say that I’m alive and very healthy today. Every mile I put on my bike is a blessing, and I just helped my son celebrate his 18th birthday. Thank you for sharing your story, it’s easy to sense the emotion involved and I’m hooked. Looking forward to the next installment.

  21. Comment by Tammy | 02.14.2012 | 8:47 am

    I can’t wait for the next installment. Keep ‘em coming!

  22. Comment by Turt99 | 02.14.2012 | 9:05 am

    Fatty, I want to thank you so much for this story. I really enjoy cycling so naturally I am drawn to your blog, however its posts and connections like this that have me continuing to come back. I lost my mother to breast cancer in 2005, and I my self have had cancer (thyroid cancer). The emotions you are able to put on the screen hit so close to home its scary. I can’t say I am waiting for these posts to continue because I am sure some of them are not going to be pleasant but I pray that this process help you in some way as I am sure the end results will help others when the book is released.

  23. Comment by Skippy | 02.14.2012 | 10:08 am

    In those days you must of felt like you had been pushed out of an aircraft without a parachute ! Whilst most of us know the end of the story already , whilst reading this , you are in the moment unsure of what is coming next .
    Matt C. must have been a truly amazing Guy to catch you whilst in free fall!
    Off topic , the Irish Para Cyclist( a former fatty ) did good in Florida :

  24. Comment by Jason | 02.14.2012 | 2:53 pm


    I lived 28 years (minus 2) in SLC. Now I live in NJ and while the people for the most part are amazing, I have to say that staying out west was the right decision. Could you please call my wife and convince her that UT is the place to be?

  25. Comment by Tracy | 02.14.2012 | 7:46 pm

    (sniffle) Can I place a pre-order *now*?

  26. Comment by Angie | 02.20.2012 | 9:59 am

    I have tears starting my eyes.


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