Last year, Tim Haley of South Portland biked the 192-mile Pan-Mass Challenge, then rushed home for ongoing treatment for stage IV colon cancer.

This year, he plans to stay for the after-party.

Wearing a “Team Headstrong” shirt, Haley will bike Aug. 6 and 7 across Massachusetts again, this time cancer-free.

“I told my doctor that as long as he kept giving me birthdays, I would keep participating in the Pan-Mass Challenge,” Haley said in the 2010 Pan-Mass Challenge yearbook.

Haley’s friends and family will join him on Team Headstrong in the 32nd Pan-Mass Challenge, an annual bike-a-thon that crosses Massachusetts to raise money for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Haley expects to raise $75,000 with his team this year to support his doctor and the research that saved his life.

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Haley’s doctor, Dr. Brian Wolpin, said he recommends physical activity to recovering colon cancer patients.

“For people who have had colon cancer removed, regular exercise four to five times a week can lower the occurrence of the tumor coming back,” Wolpin said.

Haley said committing to the Pan-Mass Challenge has helped him commit to a training regimen.

When founder Billy Starr created the event, he wanted it to “include some pain,” he said.

“Life had taught me that pain and heartache was more memorable than a sunny day,” said Starr, who lost his mother and brother to cancer. “I wanted an event that made people better as a result of, not in spite of, the adversity.”

Using cancer as a motivator, instead of a deterrent, Haley trained for the race last year. “It helped me through the endurance,” he said. “Biking was extremely therapeutic. When you’re on a bike, you get to think a lot and see a lot more than you would on a run.”

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Diagnosed with cancer in May 2009, Haley has had several operations and rounds of chemotherapy that have finally yielded a CT scan that reads “NED,” meaning no evidence of disease.

“Stage IV cancer is as bad as it gets. It brought a lot of things to my attention, and defined them more clearly … things like my wife and 3-year-old daughter, my family,” he said.

“I feel compelled to do my part to contribute to the cancer community. Riding in the Pan-Mass and raising money for research is the best way I know to keep going and help defeat this awful disease.”

Haley also plans to participate this summer in The Dempsey Challenge, an annual run/walk/cycle that benefits The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing at Central Maine Medical Center, as well as the Southern Portland Cancer Community Center Fight Back Festival run and walk. “Winston Churchill once said ‘If you are going through hell, keep going’,” Haley said.

“Having endured two years of treatment, I can assure you that cancer is a form of hell.”

Maintaining humor in the face of an awful disease, at the bottom of the letters he sent to family and friends requesting Pan-Mass Challenge donations, Haley wrote:

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“Always remember this ‘Running in place will never get you the same results as running from a lion,’ Stay thirsty my friends.”

Staff Writer Colleen Stewart can be contacted at 791-6355 or at:

[email protected]

 


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