Cortland man rides for awareness

CORTLAND – Since he left July 6 from Warren Harley-Davidson, Cortland resident Steve Alexander has been determined to raise awareness of cancer treatments and their costs as he himself is battling an incurable form of cancer.

His 6,000-mile “Ride for a Purpose” concludes Saturday when he and about 20 others are expected to ride on their motorcycles to the Cleveland Clinic from Oak Park, Ill., following a 35-day ride that took him and others through Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maine, Vermont, New York and parts of Canada.

The money raised from the ride will help those who need cancer treatments and the associated ancillary costs.

Alexander has undergone his own cancer treatment for multiple myeloma at the Cleveland Clinic and knows how expensive cancer care can be for a family. He briefly returned to the clinic from the ride on July 17 for his chemotherapy treatment.

“I was ready to get on the road for this ride,” he said.

Brian Ferguson of Warren and with the Warren HOG group was leading the trip when they left in early July.

Margie Alexander, Steve’s wife, rode part of the trip with him

Dr. Jason Valent of Vienna, Alexander’s oncologist, said he was impressed by what Alexander has done.

“Knowing where he came from when I first saw him, I was a little skeptical that he could do this. He has come a long way since he was first diagnosed. To undertake something like he is doing is amazing,” Valent said.

Alexander said he feels very fortunate to have Valent as his oncologist, noting he provided support to him and his wife when he was first diagnosed with cancer.

While on his ride, Alexander sent emails to family and friends detailing the many places he saw, the things he did and also providing a weather update.

He said while in Maine he ordered lobster.

“For dinner tonight, of course I had to have Maine lobster, and I can tell you that there is nothing like it in all of dining. You can order it wherever you want, but the taste here is so much more different because it is just caught and brought to the Inn right out of the ocean today, which for some reason makes the taste so much better,” he said.

Alexander said one thing he was looking forward to was visiting a cancer treatment center in Canada.

“That visit was indeed very informative and gave me a chance to compare it with my treatment center in Cleveland.”

Alexander said he had the opportunity to visit a program called Wellspring in London, Ontario, which is located in the YMCA. Wellspring is a support center for individuals coping with cancer.

He said the center offers programs for people diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers and receives no governmental funding. All of their programs are offered at no cost at the YMCA.

Alexander said some of the programs are support groups, aqua fit, cancer care talks, as well as a wide range of services to help meet the emotional, social, psychological and informational needs of people living with cancer.

“Perhaps one the most important thing that the center has going for it is their director, Daniel, who is also a cancer survivor and clearly has a passion for his work and his desire to help others stricken with this disease. I was very impressed with his presentation and his willingness to talk about his programs and how much they are doing to help others. Just so you know he also rides a motorcycle,” Alexander said

Alexander said he would have loved to have a quiet and supportive place such as this when he was first diagnosed.