Cancer Research: Going the Distance (cont.)

MEMBER QUESTION:
How did you get involved with the Tour of Hope?

STUART:
Actually, I applied for the national team last year and was a finalist, but was not selected for the team, so I applied again this year and was selected.

MEMBER QUESTION:
How has the trek across the country been so far? Are you glad that you joined the Tour?

STUART:
The trip has been awesome. We are finding it very challenging physically, riding four hours every 16 hours, but it is tremendously uplifting mentally. I'm especially pleased to be riding with my teammates and look forward to completing this incredible journey.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Does Lance Armstrong ride with you some of the way?

STUART:
Just this morning our team, Team B, left Mason City, Iowa, on an 87-mile ride. About three miles into the ride another rider in the same Tour of Hope uniform joined us from a van on the side of the road. It was Lance Armstrong, and he rode with us for 25 miles.

MODERATOR:
Joining us now is Jim Owens; live from the Tour of Hope. Welcome Jim.

OWENS:
Wonderful to be talking with you.

MODERATOR:
How has life on the road with the Tour of Hope been for you?

OWENS:
It has been one of the most moving experiences of my life.

MEMBER QUESTION:
How did you learn about the cutting-edge treatment you received for your brain tumor, Jim? Was it a "last resort" scenario or did you get involved with it from the very beginning of your treatment?

OWENS:
It was not a last resort. My tumor was diagnosed in 1998, and we went into the standard treatment of surgery, which was not successful, and then radiation, which shrunk my tumor by 33%. Three years later it recurred.

I had significant side effects the first time around, most noticeably epilepsy. Because of that experience, I wanted to find a treatment that was effective yet was not going to give me any more of a neurological deficit, so I asked a lot of questions, did research, got a second opinion and found some wonderful doctors that laid out my options, including this breakthrough treatment, which I chose to do. It stopped my tumor, it left me healthy throughout treatment, and I'm riding today because of it.

MODERATOR:
How are you feeling today?

OWENS:
I'm feeling great today. Two days ago we had a really difficult night stage, really cold, very windy, and nothing really to see, and we had an aggressive pace to set. I was really hurting at the end of that. Today in the sun we have lots of people cheering us on. There were a lot of kids, a lot schools. I really miss my 5-year-old boy, Max. It really filled our sails, lifted our hearts. Although I just biked 83 miles, I feel I could just get right back on the bike.

"Through my own life and the lives of all the people I've ridden with, I see how cancer research and clinical trial participation are making all the difference."

MEMBER QUESTION:
How does it make you feel when you ride into a crowd of people who are cheering you on?

OWENS:
It was really exciting. I tell you, you're exhilarated, smiling, and crying at the same time. You put an incredible exertion out there. It was absolutely wonderful to see so many people out there.

MEMBER QUESTION:
What are the risks of participating in a trial? Were you afraid?

OWENS:
I was afraid of my tumor, and after doing my research the treatment I chose seemed like the best option of getting the results I needed and getting me back into my full life.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Do you think clinical trials ever give participants false hope?

OWENS:
I think there is always hope. I've seen it in my own life that so many people can get great results from their treatments. There's no guarantee in anything. It's important for people to ask the questions and make their own decisions. Clinical trials are going to make a better tomorrow for people with cancer.

MODERATOR:
If you want more info about clinical trials, please visit the WebMD message board, "Clinical Trials". Our expert can answer some of your questions and direct you to more information.

OWENS:
I see people all the time that have been diagnosed and I tell them the same things:

  • Have hope.
  • Be your own quarterback: Ask questions, take charge.
  • Know with your whole heart and spirit that better days are ahead.
Now through my own life and the lives of all the people I've ridden with, I see how cancer research and clinical trial participation are making all the difference. That's what is going to give us a world where cancer is either beatable or manageable and no longer a killer. More hope is coming every day.

MODERATOR:
You can go to www.tourofhope.org to learn more about the incredible ride of these amazing cancer survivors and make the pledge to learn more about cancer, clinical trials, and hope! Our thanks to Jim Owens and Robert Stuart, MD, for joining us live from on the road with the Tour of Hope. For more information, please visit www.tourofhope.org.

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