Lone Cancer Survivor Begins 1,700 Mile Paddle for Two Million Men Battling Prostate Cancer
High-School Instructor and Kayaker from Massachusetts Departs Chicago on 54-day Awareness Trek
June 14, 2008 -- Nine months a year Skip Ciccarelli, a 60-year-old survivor of prostate cancer, is a high school carpentry instructor at Shawsheen Technical High School in the Boston suburb of Billerica. This morning he became the champion of two million American men battling prostate cancer. Setting out on a 54-day, 1,700 mile kayak trek that will take him from the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago to the Hudson River in New York City, Ciccarelli is determined to raise awareness for one of the most prevalent forms of cancer, second only to melanomas.
In 2002, Ciccarelli was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer and was told by his doctors that he had two months time before the cancer spread to other parts of his body. In 2002, Ciccarelli was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer and was told by his doctors that he had two months time before the cancer spread to other parts of his body.
"At the time I realized, that like most men, I was clueless about prostate cancer and soon became flummoxed at how little men know about their own bodies," says Ciccarelli, a husband and father of three adult children. "I realize I need to use my own abilities to help raise awareness. By drawing attention to prostate cancer, I'm hoping more men will get prostate checkups and PSA screenings, and that more research will focus on this disease. When was the last time you heard someone talk about prostate cancer?"
According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 28,000 men will die from prostate cancer in 2008 while 186,000 new cases are diagnosed. With the aging of the baby-boomer generation, the number of new cases diagnosed annually is projected to reach 300,000 by 2015—an increase of more than 60 percent—with an accompanying annual death rate of approximately 45,000. Early detection and treatment can result in a five-year survival rate of more than 90 percent.
Ciccarelli's approach is simple. He is hoping kayak clubs, cancer support groups, men's groups and individuals will join him in getting the word out about his journey for prostate cancer awareness. He also says that he would be delighted to have fellow kayakers and canoers paddle with him for stretches along the route. In fact, it wasn't until this week out that a friend of his contacted the Prostate Cancer Foundation for some help in getting the word out.
The course charted by Ciccarelli will take him through Lakes Michigan, Huron, St. Claire and Erie. It will also take him through the Detroit River and the Erie Canal before he starts his trip down the Hudson River. Covering 40 miles a day, with six days built in for bad weather delays and two days off to join his students at a technical competition in Kansas City Missouri, Skip is planning on arriving at Manhattan's Pier 66 on August 9—the seven year anniversary of his surgery. More information on Skip and his 1,700 mile journey can be found at www.paddle4prostate.org.
About the Prostate Cancer Foundation
The Prostate Cancer Foundation is the world’s largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research focused on discovering better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer. Founded in 1993, the PCF has raised more than $370 million and provided funding to more than 1,500 research projects at nearly 200 institutions worldwide. The PCF also advocates for greater awareness of prostate cancer and more governmental research funds. PCF advocacy has helped produce a 20-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer since 1994. More information about prostate cancer and the PCF can be found at www.pcf.org.