Murietta, CA. After a rough start, the Breakaway from Cancer (BfC) Masters
Bike Racing team rallied on the third and final stage of the 2011 Tour
De Murrieta to sweep the top three podium spots.
The fired-up team dedicated the hard fought sweep to charismatic cancer
survivor Eugene “Gene” Stirone, age 69, of Mission Viejo,
California. Gene's story is compelling. In 2008, he overcame late
stage prostrate cancer and just when he thought he was home free he was
diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lung linings
caused by asbestos.
Gene, a US Navy Veteran, took the bad news in stride. He was advised that
mesothelioma was incurable, but he had heard that before from his prostate
doctors. He bore down and got busy finding the best doctor while not forgetting
to do his part to enjoy each precious moment of his otherwise wonderful life.
Gene consulted with three surgeons: two wanted to amputate his lung, the
other wanted to leave it be and focus on stripping out the visible tumor
surrounding his lung. Gene chose to keep his lung and hired the doctor
who erred on keeping a vital and perfectly health organ in place –
Dr. Robert Cameron of UCLA Medical School.
After a successful surgery, followed by aggressive radiation and interferon
treatments, Gene returned to the gym where he worked out with weights.
He rode his bike to the beach, played golf, sailed and enjoyed his daily
walks. Unfortunately, just when his future looked brightest, of all things,
his prostrate cancer reared it’s ugly head.
Gene again took the bad news in stride. He had his son by side and his
sense of humor in tact. Gene describes his 26 year old son Vince as his
"best friend." Vince plays in a rock band and, as Gene proudly
reports, he’s even able to help pay the bills around the house.
Inspired by Vince’s "live your dreams" example, Gene recently
took up piano lessons, which he credits for soothing his soul and getting
his mind off of his increasing discomfort.
After the first stage of the Tour de Murrieta, BfC’s Richard Meeker
was tops on the leader board, while mates Thurlow Rogers and Roger Worthington
were 6th and 7th. Meeker spent the next two days launching, attacking,
bridging, blocking, decoying and all but cradling Rogers and Worthington.
It was a total team effort,” said Meeker, many times a masters national
champion. “I knew after the time trial I had excellent form. The
goal was not simply for me to win but for our team to sweep the podium.
That’s what a team’s all about – a combination of focused
individual effort and cunning team work.”
Meeker helped Thurlow win the criterium in a breakaway and in the circuit
race, Meeker, Thurlow, Steve Strickler and Peter Sullivan stymied all
chase groups so that Worthington could could escape off the front for
the win, which helped him leapfrog into 3rd place overall.
"We never gave up," said Meeker. "This win goes to Gene
Stirone, a tough, resilient guy who never gives up. If a smile or laughter
could kill cancer, Gene would live forever."