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Life IS Beautiful!

July 27, 2010

I meet a lot of heroes in my line of work. People who have done battle with the demon cancer, their caregivers and supporters, they’re all heroes to me. Some of those heroes also become good friends.

Last week, I had coffee with Jeffrey Rowe, hero and friend. Jeffrey is in the midst of his second battle with brain cancer. His recurrence was discovered during an MRI after he’d had a pretty major bicycling accident on a west Knox County road. The cancer was found early, but what was one tumor is now three. The tumors are small, though.

Jeffrey will undergo another MRI before doctors decide on a course of treatment. Right now, surgery isn’t an option because surgeons would have to go through the brain’s speech center.

Of course, the ability to speak is important. For Jeffrey, it’s his livelihood. He’s a motivational speaker, and a darned good one at that. I’ve heard him on several occasions talk about how cancer has changed his life and that of his family. He even used the bicycle accident experience to challenge those of us in the American Cancer Society’s Knoxville office to look for the good in unexpected, even dark, places.

So, over coffee the other day, Jeffrey and I caught up. We talked about our families, our work, and endurance sports. We talked a lot about that, actually. I’m a marathoner, he’s a cyclist and we both want to do what the other guy does. Jeffrey had planned to walk the first half of the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon with me this past spring, but he wasn’t physically ready what with his treatment schedule and all. And I am looking forward to getting my butt in a bicycle saddle one day soon.

bicycling is relatively new to Jeffrey. A couple of years ago he had gastric bypass surgery and lost a lot of weight. As he got into shape and became more fit, he began bicycling. Pretty seriously, actually. Last year, he was part of an endeavor called Spokes of Hope, where cyclists who’ve survived cancer travelled the East Coast and into Washington, DC, to raise cancer awareness.

Spokes of Hope fits nicely with his mantra, actually, which is “Live. Love. Give.” Live life to the fullest, love people with all your heart, and give your time, talent and treasure to make your corner of the world a better place.

He hopes to do Spokes of Hope again, but probably not this year. His cancer meds have caused him to gain some of his weight back and he’s been off the bike more than he’s been on, but he wants to get back on his bike. He’s looking forward to the 2011 Knoxville Marathon too. For now, he’s planning to do the Hotter ‘n Hell 5K in August, which raises money for the American Cancer Society, and he’s working to organize a local cycling event as well.

In Jeffrey’s words, life is beautiful!

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