Fighting Cancer

In 2011 and 2012 I rode LOTOJA with the Huntsman’s Hometown Heroes program to raise money for cancer research and to make my ride more meaningful. I have made the decision along with several of my friends to ride LOTOJA with the program again in 2013. I think my pursuits are selfish enough that in my A race, I should spend time separating my friends from their money and doing it for a great cause.

Cancer has hit my family pretty hard. My Grandpa Montee died from complications from the surgery to remove pollups from his colon. My Grandma — we call her Mimi — had a full mastectomy in January 2011 because of breast cancer. My Father-in_Law James “Jim” Jorgensen slowly died from the impact of cancer coupled with the treatment of the disease. Finally, my Sister-in-Law Kathy Brimhall has a very rare form of cancer that is very painful. Since last year she has undergone some amazing treatments that have helped prolong her life and given her family, including us, more time with her. Her fight has been tough, be she has been up to the task and so far, continues to win.

My Grandpa Charles Montee was a stud. His Mom died when he was young and he had to take responsibility for himself, his brother, and sister. He worked his tail off and ended up working in surface coal mines and maintaining a farm in Southeast Kansas. He was a hard worker until a week before the surgery that took him from us.

In an exam, polyps were found in his colon. He had surgery to remove the polyps and was never the same. I think that because of the anesthesia, his brain was scrambled. He thought he was 20 years old and did not recognize anyone around him. He got violent — never in his life was he a violent guy. He had to be confined inside for his own protection and the protection of others. Think about it — he was accustomed to working outside all his life and now he was locked inside. He constantly tried to escape. He was finally set free after being lost in his mental fog a couple of years after his surgery.

I spoke at the funeral. I am fairly spiritual so my Mom asked me to talk. It was a very emotional experience for me. I spoke about the rest he was finally getting. I talked about the wonderful example that he was to the family. He really was an amazing man. The talk I gave was very therapeutic for me.

I miss him. A lot. All of the bikes I ride are named “Chuck” after him. I miss the fact that Hoss won’t get to know him. I miss the fact that we can’t hunt together. I have a shotgun he used to hunt with and in a fire, it is one of the things in the house that I would try and save. I used to hunt with it, but about four years ago I cleaned it up and put it away for good. It will be my son’s when the time is right.

My Father-in-Law, James D. Jorgensen was an exceptional human being. He was a world-renowned nerd. Really. Professionally he was a pioneer of neutron diffraction and the structure of superconductors.  He worked his entire professional career for Argonne National Laboratory and was one of the most highly cited physicists in the world between 1981 and 1999.

But personally I just knew him as Jim. You would never guess you were talking with someone who would easily qualify as one of the smartest people in the country. He was so humble and never, ever talked down to people. Being his son-in-law was and continues to be amazing. I spoke at his funeral here locally and the love that you could feel at the event was something you could touch. I loved Jim because he made me feel like I belonged in his family and that I was the most amazing person to ever walk the earth. That and he was funny.

Jim was amazing with his grandkids and having him gone has been a serious loss for our family. My son Hoss has his grandma just down the street from us now, which is fantastic. Most of the grandkids on that side of the family are older and they got to have that relationship with Jim. Hoss did not. Jim passed on in 2006 and in the almost six years since his death, we still think of him everyday. Recently my son and I were working on an amateur astronomy project and I said “Man, it sure would be nice if your Grandpa were around to explain this to us”.

The Huntsman Cancer Foundation was established in 1995 to, “understand cancer from its beginnings, to use that knowledge in the creation and improvement of cancer treatments, to relieve the suffering of cancer patients, and to provide education about cancer risk, prevention, and care.” The funds go to the Huntsman Cancer Institute, who helps fulfill that mission. The Huntsman Hometown Heroes provides the framework to help people like me raise money for cancer.

It has been a couple of years since I have actually used cycling to raise money for cancer, but that does not mean we have stopped the fight. As a family we continue to support those organizations like the Huntsman Cancer Foundation with their fight. As you can tell this is a topic that is near and dear to my family’s heart. Thanks for listening, and thanks in advance for any type of contribution that you make. Cancer is a horrible, horrible disease that with the work of organizations like the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, can be beat. If you are looking to make a contribution to the fight against cancer, consider them.

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...