Cycle for Survival

January 15, 2009 4:42:26 PM PST
We're just a week away from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's 2009 Cycle for Survival. It benefits research on what is commonly known as orphan cancers or relatively rare forms of the disease that may lack crucial funding. Jennifer Goodman Linn, founder of Cycle for Survival, and Dr. Robert Maki, co-director of the Adult Sarcoma Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, joined us with details. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center will hold the third annual Cycle for Survival (www.cycleforsurvival.com) at Equinox in New York City on January 25th and in satellite locations around the world, raising funds to directly benefit orphan cancer research. An orphan cancer is any form of the disease that affects less than 200,000 individuals.

You are the founder of the event. How did you get involved?

Jennifer Goodman Linn:
I was diagnosed with MFH Sarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer so rare it affects less than one percent of all cancer patients. My treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center included three surgeries -- the first of which removed a football-sized tumor from her abdomen -- and numerous chemotherapy treatments.

While in treatment, I discovered true empowerment during her indoor cycling workouts. Cycling enabled me to push myself to the best of my ability every day, and I believe that it saved my life. At the same time, I developed a strong bond with her MSK caregivers and fellow patients, vowing that if I survived, she would do something to express her gratitude.

I demonstrated her determination to give back by working with my husband Dave Linn to create Spin4Survival, an indoor team cycling fundraiser held in January 2007. I envisioned an event that would reward and challenge the mind, body, and soul - one that would eventually become national in scope.

The inaugural event was an inspiration for all who attended. The second annual fundraiser far surpassed projected goals, with more than 120 teams geared up to battle cancer including worldwide satellite teams. During it's first two years, the event has raised more than $800,000 and has grown into the fundraiser now known as Cycle for Survival. The goal for this year's event is $1 million.

What is an orphan Cancer?

Dr. Robert Maki:
Although characterized as "rare" because each one affects fewer than 200,000 individuals, orphan cancers together exact an enormous toll in terms of human suffering and lost lives. They include such devastating and well-known forms of the disease as glioblastomas, which are the most common high-grade brain tumors in adults and probably the most resistant of all cancers to treatment, soft tissue sarcomas, and multiple forms of leukemia.

Orphan cancers are frustratingly difficult to diagnose and treat. They have a profound impact on the lives of our patients and their families, and Cycle for Survival underscores our steadfast commitment to finding new ways to fight cancer in all its forms.

How did Equinox get involved?

It started as a grass roots thing where I got support from my local gym leadership team. Every year it got bigger and bigger so we decided we needed to share the story with Equinox corporate and they loved it...a great way of bringing to life Equinox's "It's Not Fitness, It's Life" mentality.

How has Cycle for Survival helped you?

Jennifer Goodman Linn:
The fact that this event has directly benefited patients motivates me to keep going. We've gained momentum, and we've already changed the way we're fighting this illness. I have great hope that this will ultimately lead to more treatment breakthroughs and higher survival rates for those with rare cancers, so that more of us will live to tell our unique tales."

How will the day work?

There will be 200 teams, each with up to eight members. The four-hour cycling event will divide into four fifty-minute riding sessions per team. One bike is allotted to each team, with time on each bike divided among teammates according to their plan.

For more information on Cycle for Survival, visit www.cycleforsurvival.com.

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