My oldest brother, Jeff, was diagnosed on Dec. 26, 1999, with stage IV Head and Neck cancer. He stood a zero-to-25% chance of surviving for five years. But, thanks to the leading-edge treatment he received from Dr. Gordon Watson and his colleagues at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City — and, as Jeff says, “the blessings of a kind and gracious Heavenly Father,” — he was restored to health.
Twelve years later, he and his wife Janet are enjoying their five children and 10 grandchildren.
In 2000, still early in his treatment but eager to give back, Jeff organized his first cancer fundraiser: a bike ride from the front door of Huntsman Cancer Institute to our hometown of Reno, Nevada, 667 miles away. He rode Highway 50, dubbed “The Loneliest Road in America,” to symbolize the loneliness of the journeys many travel as they undergo cancer treatment.
Janet, and their son, Joshua, joined that first ride, following in a support vehicle. I built a meager website to let family, friends and fellow patients track his progress. Jeff raised $7,000 that first year, which he presented to the Institute for research to improve treatments and, ultimately, find cures.
Jeff has repeated his Reno ride every year since, raising more than $400,000 in the process. His goal for 2013 is to raise $300,000. In 2012 Jeff was joined by more than 300 cyclists on the final day of his ride. His spirit inspires all of us.
– Derek Warren