20

I don’t remember all the details. I know I was at the office of the ENT (ears,nose, throat) surgeon who had removed an enlarged lymph node from my neck the week before. It was at Highland Hospital in Rochester, NY. It was sort of a grey, drizzly day.

The words from the doctor, that’s what I remember. I don’t even remember the doctor’s name. Just his words….

“The pathology report on the lymph nodes says that you have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”

I don’t really remember anything else from that day. I think maybe I called my parents and told my bosses at work. February 22, 1996. I was 22 years old.

It was twenty years ago today, the day my personal cancer journey began.

So much has happened along this journey since then. The surgeries. The radiation. The long recovery. The years of follow-up scans. The family and friends who have also had their journeys. My aunt. My Grandpa. My Grammie. My mom. My colleague at Harpoon. My dad. The self-exams. The unbelievable, irrational feeling of finding a new lump 5 years ago. More surgeries. Chemotherapy. Another long recovery. More scans. More uncertainty. The realization that at any point in time, you can be back on the surgery table to remove another lump and facing more treatments.

Those are the emotional and physical hurdles.  But the journey has also pushed me to advocate and fundraise for better treatments and cures for cancer. I started cycling and doing the Pan Mass Challenge in 1997 – this August’s ride will be my 10th. With the support of my family and friends, we have collectively raised over $65,000 for the world-renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of a great team devoted to this cause – we’ve raised over $2.25 million in the last 10 years. Being a part of the PMC as a Living Proof rider has been the most important thing I have done in my life, outside of being a husband and father.

And what does this anniversary hold for me today? Another follow-up visit to the oncologist, of course. Another trip to the Cancer Center and more blood work. No scans today, hopefully, unless the blood work suggests that a look is needed. I’ll get an update on what the next treatment would be should the lymphoma return. And I really hope it is the most boring appointment ever.

20for20

Would you donate $20 today to help me celebrate my 20th year of survivorship AND to create a cancer-free world? Cancer-free – it seems far-fetched, but I’ve been following the world of cancer research for 20 years and I know that this is not a pipe dream, moonshot idea – each and every day, we are closer to this goal than ever before. So $20 to support this effort seems like a pretty good deal. To top it off, I will pledge to ride 1 minute on my trainer in March for each and every dollar donated for each dollar donated by the end of February. My dream is that I will have to spin for more than a 1,000 minutes next month – that’s almost 17 hours of training.  I’ve done 1,000 minutes since the start of the year (7 weeks).

Please Donate Here: http://www.pmc.org/as0171

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Final Training Ride for #PMC2015

HAY! My training partner, Forza-G teammate, and friend Mark and I on training ride in Baltimore County (July 2015)
HAY! My training partner, Forza-G teammate, and friend Mark and I on training ride in Baltimore County (July 2015)

This morning, I completed my final training ride for this year’s Pan Mass Challenge. I didn’t take a selfie (this photo was taken last weekend). I just rode and thought about the people who have shared their cancer connection with me. It’s hard to ride with the sun rising in your eyes that are full of tears. Frankly, you do get used to it.

I set some goals at the beginning of the year – to be a more impactful advocate for cancer survivors, to be a better fundraiser for the PMC, to be a more engaged teammate to Team Forza-G, and to train my tail off. If I can do these things as well as my training has gone, I can rest well. I have already ridden more miles this year than any other year and this month, I have ridden more miles than I have in any other month of my life. After 1,331 miles and an estimated 82,000 feet of vertical climbing, I am officially done training and ready for the PMC.

My focus is now on enjoying my 3-day ride across Massachusetts with my 55 Forza-G teammates and our families, the 5,500 plus riders, the 3,000 plus volunteers, with all of the well-wishers along the route, and without a doubt, with my father-in-law Norm, who will be riding in his first PMC this weekend!

Special thanks to my training partner and teammate Mark D’Agostino for sharing many laughs along the roads of Maryland and Pennsylvania with me throughout the winter, spring, and summer.

Now it is my time to ask you. Will you push on with me? What are you willing to donate today to help end cancer and to see an end to the pain, suffering, and sadness that this insipid disease causes?   What if it was the life of a loved one, a friend, or a college roommate? What if it was your child? What if it was you?

We are getting closer… every day

I believe that cancer is about to be defeated and I’m doing my part. Please join my effort to find the cures that will wipe out cancer from our world: donate today: http://give.pmc.org/as0171

Here’s a 30 second video showing the results that are being achieved at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute with the money that is being raised. Learn about the research breakthroughs, clinical leadership, and ongoing mission of DFCI.

Where The Money Goes

I am pleased to share this video with all of my donors which explains “Where The Money Goes” when you donate to my PMC ride. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute President and CEO, Edward Benz Jr., MD, explains the impact of Pan Mass Challenge donations on Dana-Farber’s mission of advancing cancer research and improving patient care. While I have always known that PMC’s support to Dana-Farber is critical to their mission, it is extremely enlightening to hear Dr. Ed Benz highlight specific advances that have been achieved because our collective efforts and contributions.

As you watch this video, I’m sure you will appreciate the importance of the donations you have made. Thank you for your continued support!

If you’d like to make a donation today to help the Dana-Farber continue to fulfill its mission, you can – please visit pmc.org/as0171.

With my amazing Forza-G teammate Suzanne at the PMC Living Proof Portrait Portrait Project opening reception at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Suzanne was one of the 43 survivors featured in this work by photographer Michael Casey.

Reminders of The Journey

At the beginning of April each year, I always have cancer on my mind. For both my bouts with cancer, April is when all the surgeries and treatments started. In the past week, I have been reminded of the collective power of those that have survived through the Pan-Mass Challenge​ #LivingProof Portrait Project, the enormous challenge in front of the cancer research community to find a cure via the PBS series “Cancer: Emperor of All Maladies”, the possibility of that cure being found sooner than later by the thanks to the 60 Minutes segment on the polio vaccine clinical trials happening at Duke right now, and the tremendous heartbreak that a friend’s family is experiencing as one of their own enters her final days.

With my amazing Forza-G teammate Suzanne at the PMC Living Proof Portrait Portrait Project opening reception at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Suzanne was one of the 43 survivors featured in this work by photographer Michael Casey.
With my amazing Forza-G teammate Suzanne at the PMC Living Proof Portrait Portrait Project opening reception at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Suzanne was one of the 43 survivors featured in this work by photographer Michael Casey.

One of the patients featured in Episode 2 received her treatment at Hopkins, so there are many of the images of her and other patients in this episode are in the very rooms where I received my treatment in 2011. It was a difficult watch for me yet fascinating and I encourage you to take the time. Episode 3 airs tonight on PBS and all are being replayed so set the DVR (or you can watch online at the link below)

Episode 1: Watch Here
Episode 2: Watch Here
Episode 3: (I will add the link when it gets posted)

Do you remember what happened to you 19 years ago today?

I do.

Here I am during the summer of 2011 - about to get chemotherapy to help rid my body of  Hodgkins lymphoma. #19for19
Here I am during the summer of 2011 – about to get chemotherapy to help rid my body of Hodgkins lymphoma. #19for19

It was a day that changed my life.

It was the day that I first became a cancer patient.

I didn’t think back then what life was going to be like when I was 41 years old.

I was just hoping that I’d get to 23.

And now, all these years and one recurrence later, I am still going and committed to helping create a world that is not afraid of cancer. A world that can cure and control cancer once it enters a body in a way that is humane and allows everyone to maintain their quality of life. That is why I am asking everyone to make a donation to my annual PMC ride for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute today.

Would you donate $19 today to help me celebrate my 19th year of survivorship AND to create a cancer-free world? That seems like a pretty good deal. To top it off, I will pledge to ride 1 minute on my trainer in March for each and every dollar donated for each dollar donated by the end of February. My dream is that I will have to spin for more than a 1,000 minutes next month – that’s almost 17 hours of training.  I’ve done 1,000 minutes since the start of the year (7 weeks).

Please Donate Here: http://www.pmc.org/as0171

 

Recapping My 3-Day PMC Ride and Visit to Maine

It is hard for me to imagine that 2 weeks have passed since my team and I arrived in Sturbridge, MA to start the 2014 PMC.  Let me see if I can come up with some words to describe this year’s 3-day ride across Massachusetts.

WET

THERAPEUTIC

FAST

EPIC

My 2014 PMC weekend started with the news that my dad, who started chemotherapy treatment in earlier July, had been admitted to the hospital due to an infection. Thankfully, the infection and his blood pressure were quickly controlled and his stay in the hospital was short. That fortunately meant that my trek across Massachusetts and the planned trip up to Maine following the PMC were still on schedule.

This year’s ride included an extra adventure, riding what my teammates have long called “DAY ZERO” from the New York & Massachusetts border to Sturbridge, MA. My good friend Barry Davis, himself a 34-year PMC rider, drove a large group of us from the Boston area out to Lenox in a school bus on Thursday afternoon.

pmc2014_dayzero_bus
As you can tell, we were very excited to get off the bus! Thanks Barry and Mark for getting us to Lenox safely!

FRIDAY, AUGUST 1st: DAY ZERO

A number of us started Friday morning at our teammate Kevin’s house in Lenox.

pmc2014_day0_start

And then we met the rest of the group riding on the Town Square in Lenox, MA. Twenty of us in total, heading west first to the NY state line, then east to Sturbridge.

pmc2014_dayzeroriders

pmc2014_dayzero_ride
Riding Day Zero. Yup – I can ride a bike!

The highlight of my Day Zero ride was completing a 4-mile, 700 foot climb at mile 50. The day’s plan though then went awry when leg cramps hit me hard on mile 60. I was done for the day, so I hopped in one of our support vehicles, got hydrated, and arrive in Sturbridge.

Later on Friday, as is our tradition, my teammates and I enjoyed the live PMC Opening Ceremonies at the Sturbridge Host Hotel. This year’s show was broadcast live on the Boston CBS affiliate and hosted for the first time in the history of the event by a PMC rider, CBS Boston’s own Lisa Hughes.

pmc2014_openingceremony
Not sure what Kevin is doing in the background here, but I am obviously telling Ben that I think he is awesome.
pmc2014_ceremony
some of Forza-G at the Opening Ceremonies

This year’s show was great – feel free to watch the opening ceremonies here:

 

READ MORE: PART 2- #PMC2014 SATURDAY & SUNDAY

Please make a donation today to remember those who have past, to honor those who are stricken, and to end cancer in our lifetime. Thank you!