Dave lost his life to prostate cancer on January 13, 2024. The Prostate Cancer Foundation is truly grateful for his vision for this event and for all of the support over the years. We send condolences to his family. This story was originally published in September 2023.
Dave Tozer and Rey Sotelo are prostate cancer survivors, friends, and motorcycle enthusiasts. While they’ve had very different experiences with the disease itself, they share a singular goal: to raise awareness and start more conversations around prostate cancer screening. And they’ve committed to the cause by hosting an annual event, the HOPE Motorcycle Rally.
Dave was first. Before his prostate cancer diagnosis in 2015, he had assumed that his PSA was being checked regularly. Not so. His cardiologist noticed that his PSA was high, which led to the diagnosis, and he ultimately had a prostatectomy. Because the cancer was high-risk/aggressive, he had radiation and hormone therapy. Since then, he has had multiple other treatments, including Provenge, a personalized immunotherapy to boost his immune system to fight prostate cancer.
Dave considered how he could turn his diagnosis into something positive for the community. He reached out to Rey Sotelo, a lifelong Indian Motorcycle enthusiast who heads Indian Motorcycle of Hollister, CA. “There’s so much awareness out there for women’s cancer, but nothing for men. Could we do….not just an event, but a rally for the cause?” Rey got connected to PCF at a motocross event and recognized the opportunity to raise not only awareness, but funding for prostate cancer research.
Thus, the HOPE Motorcycle Rally was born, and continues September 22-23, 2023, at the Hard Rock Lake Tahoe. Since the inaugural event in 2017, it has evolved and grown year over year. “I see motorcycles as a catalyst to bring people together, but it’s much more than that,” Rey explains. There’s a bike show, a motorcycle giveaway, poker night, other events…..and all are welcome.
The awareness piece is crucial, say Dave and Rey, because men don’t talk about it. Rey became “educated” after meeting Dave, before his own diagnosis in 2022. He had no symptoms, and was getting regular PSA tests. When his PSA came back at 5.2, he got a biopsy. Fortunately, the cancer was not aggressive, and he ultimately elected to undergo treatment with brachytherapy. All went well, he notes: his PSA has decreased, and his doctor says he’s on the right track. He’s grateful, because had Dave not shared his story, Rey might not have caught his cancer so early.
Rey’s not the only one who has been impacted through raising awareness and starting the conversation about prostate cancer screening. Both men have gotten feedback from men and their wives. “People come up to me and say, ‘You saved my life – I never would have gone in to get checked’, or, ’You saved my husband’s life.’” Rey relates one story: After a HOPE event, a man finally made an appointment to get his urinary symptoms checked out. “He didn’t have prostate cancer, but he found out he had diabetes! Men put gas in their gas tank to keep their bike running, but they’re just so reluctant to get themselves checked out!”
Cancer is a family issue. Rey lost his mother to ovarian cancer decades ago. He recognizes that had she been diagnosed today, she might have lived, thanks to the advancements in research and patient care. That’s why funding prostate and ovarian cancer research is at the core of the HOPE rally mission. This year, he took a different approach and emailed his family about his experience with prostate cancer. “People reached out, wrote checks, even if they couldn’t go to the rally. I got an email from my first cousin. He realized that we share DNA,” and what Rey’s diagnosis might mean for him.
Ultimately, it’s about hope. Doctors at one point gave Dave six months, and he’s alive several years later. There are ups and downs, but he keeps going. “My attitude is, Do what you gotta do to fix it. I don’t give up.”
PCF is incredibly grateful for the ongoing support from Rey and all who are part of the HOPE Motorcycle Rally. Their generous contributions are helping to accelerate treatments and cures for prostate cancer. Their efforts continue in 2024, in memory of Dave and those who have lost their lives. Go to HopeMotorcycleRally.org for more information.