Not even the toughest diagnosis could keep Chuck Wakefield, 71, off his bike. The Grapevine, Texas, resident recently rode 3,400 miles across the U.S. to raise awareness for multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer he has battled for 14 years.
The ride, sponsored by Janssen Oncology to support research through the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), brought in $400,000 for the cause.
The demands of long-distance biking—even the 100 degree-plus temperatures he experienced in the Mojave Desert during his cross-country journey—have long appealed to Wakefield, a retired dentist, who completed his first 100-mile ride in the early 1970s when he was in his 20s.
“It gives you cardiovascular fitness and helps me maintain my weight,” says Wakefield, who served in the U.S. Army and has lived all over the world.
But the sport is more than a fun way to exercise. Wakefield gets social interaction from his buddies in his local cycling club.
“I’m not the racer I used to be, but I can hang out with the faster groups because I work at it,” he says.
That determination has served Wakefield well, despite a post-diagnosis eight-month course of chemotherapy followed by a grueling bone marrow transplant. Today, he is still in treatment—a four-hour infusion of chemo twice a year and oral chemo three weeks out of the month—but, to him, it’s just a part of life.
“I don’t make a big deal out of my diagnosis,” he says. “There are side effects to all of the drugs, but I feel fortunate. My glass is 99.9 percent full.”
And though Wakefield isn’t likely to ride coast-to-coast anytime soon, he is eyeing some other challenging routes.
Article first appeared on carolinemillar.com