Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer: A Survivor’s Story
Over the last five months, I’ve trained extensively to prepare for the 2019 Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer ride, and there’s no doubt about it – the training was rigorous.
I live in Oakwood, Ohio, where the terrain is flat compared to the steep hills that I will face riding from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Denver, Colorado. The Rocky Mountains, howling winds and lower air pressure may throw me a curveball, but I’m more than confident I can tackle these challenges after what I faced almost three years ago.
In October 2016, I went for a regularly-scheduled physical exam and was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Initially, I was convinced that it was a false positive, and that the lab had simply gotten it wrong. Why should I worry? I was in great health, worked out often and had the world in front of me. Eventually, I accepted my diagnosis and turned my focus to surviving – not just for me, but for my wife Jacqui and my two daughters, Chelsea and Chloe.
Fortunately, I was diagnosed early and my cancer was treatable. Still, the experience taught me to live life to its fullest. I am thankful every day for the vigilance of my primary care provider. My doctors were able to carefully look over my biopsy and determine without fail that I had early-stage cancer.
Since learning that I was “cancer free,” I feel like I have been given a new lease on life. I just ran a half-marathon with my youngest daughter, Chloe, and we averaged under an 11-minute mile. I cycle every day not only to train for the ride, but because I enjoy it. Living an active and exciting life is my way of using the second chance that I received.
My own experience was not my first with cancer. Years ago, I watched my father courageously go through treatment for throat cancer, and I’m so happy to still have him here with me, celebrating five years of remission. My mother-in law is currently on her 15th round of treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She’s the most giving person I’ve ever met, and I truly feel like it’s my turn to give back to her by participating in Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer.
As I reflect on the experiences of my father, my mother-in-law and all cancer patients, I know how lucky I am to have had such a positive outcome; so many people do not share the same result. Until there is a cure, we need to do everything possible to raise money to advance cancer research. The Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer ride is one small way for me to make a difference. For those currently diagnosed with or in treatment for cancer, this ride and the V Foundation provide hope. Hope that one day, Victory Over Cancer® is a possibility for people across the globe.
When I first heard about Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer, I knew that it was something that I just had to do. Not try to do, but do! Not for myself, but for those whose lives depend on critical funding for cancer research.
So what is my message to cancer? Your time is up.
Joe Bolger is a Bristol-Myers Squibb employee who volunteered to participate in the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer ride to support the V Foundation for Cancer Research.