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Breakaway From Cancer Masters Team Honors Eugene Stirone Of Mission Viejo, CA: Never Give Up!


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."