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Cancer Can't Keep Locals from Taking Part in a Tour Bike Ride

Cancer survivor rides on Amgen race course in Santa Clarita.

Posted: February 25, 2008 6:39 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Brandi Newquist and her husband, Bobby, have always maintained a positive attitude.

Even after Newquist was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, they made sure that it wouldn't stop the two from living their lives.

Their strong determination was visible on Saturday as the couple took part in the Breakaway Mile, an event part of Amgen Tour of California initiated by Breakaway from Cancer and designed to honor cancer survivors.

"I'm excited," Newquist said shortly before beginning her one-mile journey. "As a cancer survivor, to do this, it really pumps you up."

Newquist is using her experience with breast cancer, currently in stage four, to let others know that the condition doesn't have to be a death sentence anymore.

She currently serves as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life.

Her involvement with the society and clinical trial she participated in through Amgen is what drew her to participate in the Breakaway Mile.

Her experience has been empowering.

"I have stage four cancer, but I can still ride bikes," she said.

The couple was joined by eight others who took part in the Breakaway Mile.

Amgen spokeswoman Kristen Davis said the event, currently in its third year, is a way to increase awareness for cancer and the resources available for those diagnosed with the disease.

This year's event benefited two organizations, The Wellness Community and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.

Michael Bergin, chief operating officer for the National Coalition, said it's about focusing on what the next steps are after a cancer diagnosis.

With the advances in cancer treatments, he believes the illness does not have to be fought alone, something echoed by Kim Thiboldeaux, president and CEO of the Wellness Community, who said she's come across many cancer survivors while participating in the Amgen Tour.

Jacob DeLong participated in the jersey ceremony after the completion of Stage 6.

Lisa DeLong, Jacob's mother, said her son was thrilled at the opportunity to participate, given his continuing battle with leukemia.

The eight-year-old undergoes constant chemotherapy treatments that often take a toll on his body.
Lisa said her son was in "wonderful shape now," but continues to fight against from colds and other ailments.

The mother explained that her son was extremely excited when he found out about the jersey presentation about four weeks ago.

She noted that he wore his own yellow Amgen jersey for two days straight out of excitement.

As the anticipation over Amgen grew over the weeks, Lisa said her son and the entire family saw their worlds expand as they learned more about cycling and the famed event.

"I didn't realize it was so big," she said at the Breakaway from Cancer booth near the finish line on McBean Parkway. On the couch, Jacob sat with his friend, Ryan.

The Amgen experience created a positive experience in Jacob's life, which so far has given him many obstacles to overcome.

Jacob was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 6 in June 2006, just six years after his older brother, Justin, died of the same disease.

Lisa said that cancer has become a theme in her family, something she hopes to one day eliminate.
She maintains that she fully believes that God has a plan, making it easier for her to understand why two of her sons have been struck with leukemia.

Helping to give the jersey was Joe Miletich, senior vice president of research and development at Amgen.
Miletich said that he loves events like Amgen as they help everybody by raising awareness.

As a researcher, Miletich said scientists like him are able to learn from cancer survivors.

Breakaway From Cancer's involvement with the Amgen Tour continues today as cancer survivor Patrick Downing will fire the starting gun for the start of Stage 7.

Downing, currently a supervisor for the Arts and Events Division of the city of Santa Clarita, is familiar with Amgen as this marks his second year of organizing the event.

He was diagnosed with cancer nine months ago after discovering a lump in his neck.

Within the same day of finding the abnormality, he went to the doctor and soon was diagnosed with head and neck cancer.

After 33 days of radiation treatment and three chemotherapy sessions, Downing said he has gone into remission.

He credits his immediate visit to the doctor as a major reason for treating his cancer so soon.

As for advice to anyone else who might be diagnosed with cancer, Downing said to keep a positive attitude, pray, keep the spirits high and look for support in family and friends.

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