Can you tell me about your fight with cancer?
In 2012, I was diagnosed with stage four metastatic colon cancer. My whole attitude about it was “If I have to give ground to cancer, I try to take it back.” So I worked a lot, through the whole chemo and radiation. My wife at the time was telling me, “You need to buy new clothes,” because I lost a lot of weight. And I said, “I’m not buying clothes for this cancer body.” It kind of ticked me off that cancer entered my life.
I’m very sports oriented, and I treated it like an opponent. There were times when, if I couldn’t sleep, instead of just laying there, I’d go for a walk, three o’clock in the morning, because I just figured that’s something that I can control. I put a face on cancer. I talked to it, I cussed it out.
How did cycling fit into your life?
Cycling was always something that when I could, I would ride. And if the treatment stopped me from doing it, I would always get back on the bike to kind of say, “It’s not going to stop me.”
When I had the first chemo, I was like, “This is nothing.” I worked out, did some cycling. Then as you get around four or five doses of it in your body, you start having to give a couple of days to recover. Fatigue is big. I’d get back on the bike and I’d start getting my miles up and then something would happen … and all of a sudden you just stop and you’d be like, “Damn, I got to start over.”
How did you get involved in cancer research?
After two years, [the cancer] got really bad. I was on a lot of pain meds, and I knew all these chemos were not working. We did radiation. That was not working. I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t eat. I was like, “Man, we can’t keep going down this chemo road. This is ridiculous.” [But] there wasn’t anything else out there.
In 2012, I had my biomarkers checked. It’s a genetic test to find out about your cancer. That’s how I got hooked up with Duke and a clinical trial, because they were looking for people with my biomarkers. Duke found me over in Greensboro and said, “Here’s an immunotherapy drug that’s approved for lung cancer and melanoma.”
[I started] this immunotherapy for stage four colon cancer. [But at that point] I didn’t have much on the table anyway. It wasn’t good at all. So it found me at just the right time. It was a miraculous outcome with that clinical trial. Just amazing. The first treatment shrank the tumor more than any of the chemos had ever done.
And now that drug is approved for metastatic colon cancer, like I had, for other patients. I just jumped into this research not knowing what the outcome was going to be, and it turned out to be huge.
How did you get involved in the V Foundation’s Victory Ride to Cure Cancer?
After the clinical trial, I was looking for an event to participate in. Cycling was always big with me, so I said, ‘Let me do some of these money raising rides.’ The first one I did, it was just all about me and getting in cancer’s face.
I was trying to come up with all these neat things for me to be doing as a cancer survivor. [And now], I’m looking at guys who are in the fight who just want to be there for tomorrow. It’s really humbling. It’s like, I want to ride 200 miles, [that] seems kind of selfish when these guys just want to live another day.
I saw something on the ACC Network about the 1983 [NCAA] National Championship…players were [saying], when you played, it wasn’t against an opponent. You didn’t want to let [Coach Jim Valvano] down. You wanted to win for him.
That’s exactly what I feel like when I’m riding on this ride. I don’t want to let other cancer patients down who need the research.
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