Pat Navin is an avid cyclist who's pedaled nearly 7,000 feet to reach the highest point east of the Mississippi River. His determination is as rock solid as his bronze, 2003 steel-frame road bike.

So when Navin, then 55, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in the fall of 2012, he did what has always sustained him in challenging situations.

"I knew the fear could cripple me and eat up a lot of my energy, and I just didn't want that to happen," said Navin, head of Inverse Marketing, a downtown Chicago advertising agency. "My mental outlook needed to be strong, and I knew riding my bike would give me the positive outlook to beat the disease."

So ride he did. For 38 radiation treatments over the course of nearly eight weeks, Navin laced up his shoes at 6:30 a.m. and cycled 44 miles round-trip from his home in Evanston, Ill., to the University of Chicago Medicine's Hyde Park medical campus.

As his friends put it, Navin literally rode his cancer into the ground.

But Navin credits his doctors, Walter M. Stadler, MD, section chief of hematology/oncology and director of the genitourinary program, and radiation oncologist Stanley Liauw, MD, for his now cancer-free status.

"I was very impressed with the doctors at the University of Chicago Medicine," said Navin. "One thing I've really come to appreciate about the medical center is the amount of effort that's put into research because that's where the breakthroughs happen."

After learning about a clinical trial Liauw is conducting, Navin decided to use his daily bike rides to raise funds for Liauw's research. To date, he has raised more than $15,000.

"To have this type of unrestricted funding is really a blessing," said Liauw, an expert on genitourinary and gastrointestinal cancer. The funds will benefit several projects, including maintenance of a database that analyzes treatment of all prostate cancer patients at the medical center.

"The ultimate goal is to supplement our clinical care with new data that can help make treatments better in terms of higher cure rates and tolerability of therapy," said Liauw.

On his last trek to Hyde Park for treatment, Navin was brought to tears when he opened his door to find 15 of his friends and supporters geared up to bike alongside him. "It was really something special," Navin said. "I think it's important when you're going through something like this to find people you're comfortable with. I was very fortunate to have found Stanley and Dr. Stadler." 

January 2014