• Fri November 10 2006
  • Posted Nov 10, 2006
He uses his bicycle to tell disease, 'I can beat you' By MEGHAN V. MALLOY REGISTER STAFF WRITER November 10, 2006 Cancer. It was the very thing Bill Throckmorton did not want to hear. "It's a sobering thing when a doctor tells you that you have cancer," the 62-year-old Des Moines man said. But Throckmorton, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer last winter, decided he was not going to let the illness get the best of him. An avid cyclist and RAGBRAI veteran, Throckmorton turned to bike riding to help him combat the disease. "I decided to ride my bike to my radiation treatments every day as a way of saying to cancer, 'I can beat you,' " he said. On Thursday, for his final radiation treatment, Throckmorton rode his bike from his south-of-Grand Des Moines home to Mercy Medical Center north of downtown. About six friends - and one new one - joined him on Thursday's ride. The cyclists were met by Throckmorton's fiancee, her parents, and Richard Deming, an oncologist and the medical director of Mercy Therapeutic Radiation Associates. Jan Svec of Des Moines, a cancer survivor, said a friend had told him about Throckmorton's ritual of riding his bike to radiation treatments. Svec decided to join the ride even though he didn't know Throckmorton. Svec said Throckmorton's determination to stay positive and active during cancer treatments made the difference in his recovery. The treatments "become part of your life," said Svec, who finished his second bout of radiation in early August. "It's easy to dwell on what's going wrong and get depressed. Staying active helps you get through it." Sixteen thousand new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in Iowa this year, according to the 2006 State Health Registry at the University of Iowa. In addition, 6,300 Iowans are expected to die this year of cancer. When Throckmorton and the riders arrived at Mercy Medical Center on Thursday, the cancer survivor wanted to thank Deming even further. Throckmorton gave Deming, an accomplished triathlete, a framed picture of Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. "Bill has been an inspiration to patients he has never even met. I've never had a patient like him," Deming said. "When patients who will be undergoing radiation ask me if they'll be able to do the things they did before, I tell them about Bill and assure them they can." Deming said he's seen several studies that suggest keeping physically active and having a positive attitude can reduce the side effects of radiation and can speed recovery. "I won't hold that out as being totally conclusive, but having a good attitude as Bill did helps," Deming said. Throckmorton said he hoped the framed picture of Armstrong, which will hang in the hallway of the Mercy Therapeutic Radiation Associates wing, will inspire other cancer patients and reassure them they can beat the disease. "There's really three things that matter in life: your health, your family and good friends," Throckmorton said. "Those things are not replaceable." "After cancer, you start looking at those things, and you ask yourself, 'Am I doing all I can every day to make the best of those three areas?' " More Photos [photos by David Peterson / The Register]

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