Pancreatic cancer survivor rides motorcycle on 'Road2ACure'



Posted on September 28, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

Washington is state No. 45 for Chris Calaprice. Five more to go. His wife, Jennifer, follows behind the purple motorcycle in the Road2ACure team pickup - also purple for pancreatic cancer.

Last February, they left for a tour around the country.

"He said 'I've got this great idea.' He thought I would say 'have you lost your mind'? And I said, 'brilliant!' I thought it was great idea I thought it was what people needed," said Jennifer.

What people needed, Jennifer thought, was to see Chris - nearly seven years after his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer , not only surviving, but enjoying life.  Yet it's not all about public appearances.

"Chemotherapy is on the agenda today. We do it once every eight weeks," he said.

That's right, chemo. In addition to crisscrossing the country since February, Chris has to arrange for chemotherapy along the way.

"We work with my oncologist and he finds locations where I can have chemo and where they'll do the actual protocol that I'm on is a little aggressive," he said.

The choice in Seattle was Virginia Mason, which has been on the forefront of pancreatic cancer treatments.

Dr. Vincent Picozzi acknowledged that Chris is a rarity, but he believes that's changing.

"The statistics suggest that only about 5 percent of patients nationwide and worldwide live five years with pancreatic cancer, but happily we see more and more long-term survivors given the progress that is being made in therapy, not only in Seattle, but all around the country and all around the world," said Dr. Picozzi.

Chris has beaten pancreatic cancer twice and now his doctor in LA has him on a maintenance chemo to keep the cancer at bay for as long as his body can take it. He's fine with that and with the permanent port-a-cath implanted in his chest to deliver the drugs, because it means survival.

"Just the fact that Chris is out there surviving pancreatic cancer for seven years now gives people hope and hope is what these disease needs," said Jennifer.

There are days, however, especially after chemo when Chris feels too exhausted to continue. He rests in town, takes naps along the way and and keeps pushing on.

"There are so many people who will be diagnosed with this and so many of my brave friends fighting it now, I can't let them down," he said.