Skip to Content Top



Walking the Walk at the Amgen Dana Point Grand Prix

On Sunday, May 6, 2012, bike racers, kids, and anti-cancer advocates“occupied” downtown Dana Point, California at the 6th Annual Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling. With almost 1000 racers and twelve races going from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the DPGP is the biggest single-day cycling event in the country and it continues to grow every year. The delight of the day for me was the kids’ race; about 400 kids of all ages, from tiny to tall, pedaling their little legs off. I’m still smiling and laughing about it.

Closer to my heart, this day marked the 2 nd Annual Breakaway from CancerWalk. Clare Cameron, Pacific Meso Center’s Executive Director and Nurse Practitioner Ann Rorie joined hands with the hundreds of survivors, children, spouses and friends to show our fighting spirit and can-do attitude against cancer. Dana Point High School’s Drum Line led the walk around the 0.8 course winding through neighborhoods overlooking beautiful Dana Point Harbor. The young and old, the healthy and hurting, all showed up to both give and take hope and support. It felt good and it felt right.

I was proud to walk beside Sue Johnson and her grandson. Sue lost her beloved husband John earlier this year to mesothelioma. According to Sue, “Roger and his team did an over the top job in helping put on this amazing show of love and respect. There’s so much grimness with this disease, it just feels good to walk in the sun with other survivors and their families.”

Sue’s son Michael “MJ” Johnson, racing for Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer, which is co-sponsored by the Pacific Meso Center, raced like a champion in two big races. He didn't win, but he won the hearts of everyone with his full-throttle effort.

It was also uplifting to see Terry Latham, who continues to astonish us with his resilience, courage and optimism. He walked the walk with his wife Maryla, just as they did last year. Rosemarie Ganoe and her daughter Elena also participated in the walk after just hosting a successful fundraiser last month in San Pedro in honor of her husband Mark, whom she lost last year. The Faraqs were also on hand, all smiles and brimming with a thirst for more life.

Roger, my boss who doesn’t know the word “moderation,” competed in two races (he would use the word “hammered”) and also co-announced the day’s events. He and Ann donated $25,000 to Pacific Meso Center to honor meso patients and their families who joined other cancer survivors in the Breakaway walk.

Events like this continue to remind us that if we are going to tame mesothelioma, we’ll need to pursue innovative therapies, which will require both a “team approach” and more funding. Meso is an unrepentant malignancy that will not give up the secrets to its demise, or even control, easily. Converting meso into a treatable chronic disease, like diabetes, is a fine goal and easy thing to say, but it’s far harder to actually achieve without the resources, which are sadly lacking. Mobilizing supporters is the first step in building the level of awareness we need to encourage our friends in the government, pharmaceutical, industry, labor and legal communities to invest in the fight.

We thank the City of Dana Point for hosting this incredible community event. We also want to thank the Amgen Corporation for sponsoring the Breakaway Walk and for taking an interest in mesothelioma. We are looking forward to walking the walk every single day!