For Lance and fellow riders, PMC proves cycle of life

August 08, 2011

Motivation is never a problem for the Dana-Farber staff members, patients and families, and others who ride in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC) each August. This past weekend’s participants, however, received an extra dose of inspiration from a first-time rider: Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong, a cancer survivor who has become a passionate advocate and fundraiser for research into the disease, rode 110 miles from Sturbridge to Bourne on day one (Saturday, Aug. 6) of the two-day event.

His participation was fitting on a number of levels. In addition to achieving many of his greatest cycling victories after enduring testicular cancer that spread to his abdomen, lungs, and brain, Armstrong has established the LIVESTRONG website to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. In 2004, Dana-Farber received $1 million to launch the Lance Armstrong Adult Survivorship Clinic, which is part of the Perini Family Survivors' Center. The Institute’s Adult Survivorship Program is a member of the LIVESTRONGSurvivorship Center of Excellence Network.

The 32nd PMC featured cyclists taking on 11 different routes ranging from 25 to 190 miles, covering the Commonwealth from Sturbridge to Provincetown. Minimum fundraising requirements ranged from $500 to $4200, depending on the route. The 5,300 riders had a collective goal of raising $34 million for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber; the total will be announced in the fall.

"The PMC continues to grow in reach and recognition," says PMC Founder and Executive Director Billy Starr, who has been riding in the event each year since its 1980 inception. "The PMC combines the two things – cycling and cancer awareness – for which Lance is known around the world. We thank him and all the committed cyclists who rode to fund cures for cancer."

This year’s pedaling contingent including people from 37 states and 8 countries – 350 of whom are cancer survivors. Dana-Farber staff always play a big role, either by serving as volunteers or by riding in the event – as 45 employees were slated to do over the weekend. In some cases, DFCI doctors and other caregivers planned to ride right alongside their patients.

"We, at Dana-Farber, have already been racing against cancer alongside Lance in the labs and in the clinic," says Adam Boutin, PhD, a research fellow in Medical Oncology who completed his first PMC. "It is very fitting that we could join him to literally race against cancer on the road."

Armstrong was not the only celebrity cyclists could spot over the weekend. Both of Massachusetts' U.S. senators, Sen. John Kerry (a prostate cancer survivor) and Sen. Scott Brown, were be among the large corps of veteran PMC riders, with Kerry riding tor the ninth time and Brown the second.

Acknowledged as the most successful and highest-earning athletic fundraising event in the country, the PMC is also the most efficient – with 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar going directly to the cause. Since its 1980 inception, the PMC has raised and contributed $303 million to Dana-Farber.

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