MYELOMA SURVIVOR GEARS UP FOR HIS THIRD PELOTONIA RIDE
BY BOB HECKER
Matt Hare, 28, of New Albany, has felt a strong connection to the annual Pelotonia bicycle tour from its beginning, almost as if lightning struck.
In a sense, it did.
One Friday in August 2009, Hare was a patient at the Cleveland Clinic, where he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis. He was undergoing chemotherapy during what would be a seven-week stay.
He and his parents wanted to return to central Ohio but thought there were no doctors there who specialized in his illness, until his aunt showed them an article in the Columbus Dispatch featuring Don Benson, MD, PhD, at the OSUCCC – James. Benson's clinical interests include multiple myeloma. "That's Matt's cancer!" his aunt said.
Hare's father called Benson's cell phone and left a message. In Columbus, it was the inaugural Pelotonia's opening-night ceremony. When a huge thunderstorm disrupted the festivities, Benson, who was attending as a rider, dashed to his car for shelter and received the cell-phone message. He immediately returned the call.
"He himself called us – not someone on his staff," Hare recalls. Benson became his doctor, and Hare continued his chemotherapy at the OSUCCC – James, which was much closer to home. "I believe I have the greatest doctor in the world, and his team has the same determination and kindness he displays. They've become such a huge part of my life – I can't help but feel this has all somehow come together for me."
Hare's chemotherapy ended that November, and in January 2010 he had a bone marrow transplant that has kept him in remission. Because multiple myeloma has a high rate of recurrence, he sees Benson for a checkup every three months.
Although he occasionally feels down about the relatively rare and incurable disease that has invaded his formerly healthy and active life, Hare says he no longer lives in fear of cancer and is hopeful for the future, realizing that research is leading to better treatments.
"I feel fine physically, and I've decided that, rather than worrying about it all the time, I will focus on the positives," he says, explaining that he often speaks to groups about his experience and helps raise money for Multiple Myeloma Opportunities for Research and Education (MMore), a non-profit corporation that supports medical research for this disease.
"I was told that I might never get back to feeling as good as I did before I got sick, but I feel much better now than in the days before my diagnosis," he says. "It seems like I've taken a great turn for the better."
In August, Hare will ride in his third Pelotonia. Cycling with him will be his parents and his wife Kate, whom he married last September.
"I did 25 miles in 2010 and 43 miles last year," Hare says. "This year I'll do a 100-mile route.
I started training for it in February; I definitely need to step my game up."
Something he knows how to do.