Cyclists surge toward cures

By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Each grueling mile they ride gets professional cyclists in the Amgen Tour of California closer to the front of the peloton — and raising awareness for important causes. After the success Lance Armstrong had in using cycling as a platform for his Live Strong Foundation, others organizations have followed suite. Along with the inception of the Amgen Tour of California in 2006, came the birth of the Breakaway from Cancer Initiative. Stuart Arbuckle, Amgen vice president and general manager of oncology said in a press conference Friday, he hoped that along with cycling, cancer awareness would take the forefront on an international stage this week. Amgen is a biotechnology company headquartered in California that manufactures drugs for cancer and other severe illnesses. “Whoever wins the Amgen Tour of California is going need an incredible support team around them to help them. You need a similar support team when you are fighting cancer,” Arbuckle said. “That is really what Breakaway from Cancer is all about. It’s about raising awareness of four incredible non-profit organizations who can provide support.” Those organizations offer support for patients in the areas of prevention, fighting cancer, financial assistance and survivorship. For maximum exposure, Breakaway from Cancer has been incorporated into each stage of the race. The most courageous professional rider of the day will be awarded the Breakaway from Cancer jersey. Each finish city will also have a Breakaway mile walk. Auburn is the only start city to feature a walk and parade, that begins at 8 a.m. There will also be a Lifestyle Festival in Downtown Auburn’s Central Square to promote healthy living. Jim Northey, who took on the Breakaway from Cancer intiative locally, has used cycling to get the word out about cancer for years. “Cycling now has basically become an avenue for cancer awareness,” Northey said. “There is a good connection to get cancer awareness out through cycling and this portion of sports. I think it goes hand in hand.” While some of his other events, like the Coolest 24 Mountain Bike Race, yield between $35,000-$55,000 for cancer-care at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, Northey said Breakaway from Cancer is geared more toward putting cancer survivorship in the public eye. Northey has also partnered with Breakaway from Cancer to provide local cancer survivors and those still battling the disease a VIP view of the Stage 3 start in the Breakaway from Cancer tent. Emily Tate, 3, of Auburn was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia last year. Her parents, April and Troy Tate, hope that her being in the parade will make a difference for others. “Emily is just a fighter. Children are just so resilient,” April Tate said. “We’re just hoping that it’ll help out the fight.” After finishing the rest of her treatments in August, Emily’s cancer will officially be in remission. It will be about five to seven years before doctors can determine if she is cured permanently. Lance Armstrong’s Team Radio Shack will also continue to raise cancer awareness at Amgen and races all over the world. Big name cyclists and potential race favorites like Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner are part of the draw. Other teams racing for a cause include Team Type 1- Sanofi-Aventis. Six of Team Type 1’s men’s professional cycling team have Type 1 diabetes. Bill Marengo, Bicycle Emporium owner, of Auburn was asked to host Team Type 1 as they trained in the Auburn area last week. Marengo said the team’s mission is to demonstrate that people with diabetes can still be world-class athletes. Six of the cyclists on the men’s professional teams have Type 1 diabetes. The Tates said raising awareness could make all the difference in the world toward finding a cure. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is one type of cancer that has been a relative success story in terms of finding a cure. In the 1960s a child diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia had less than 5 percent chance of living. Today advocating for a cure has made those statistics much higher. “(The survival rate) has gone up to 80 percent now. It’s just wonderful. We go to the hospital and see other kids who have it,” April Tate said. “We never realized how many people are affected by it.” Reach Sara Seyydin at ______________________________________________________ Ways to learn more or help Amgen causes n For more information or to donate to Breakaway from Cancer, visit n For more information or to donate to the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Foundation, call (530) 888-4557 or visit n For more information or to donate to the Live Strong Foundation, visit For more information or to donate to Team Type 1, visit