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Bike ride aids in fighting rare cancers

Leigh Ann Laube • Jul 16, 2012 at 3:55 AM

In 2006, Kevin Armstrong, a fourth-grade teacher at Ketron Elementary School, was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma (LMS), a rare, malignant cancer of smooth muscle.

“Mine was a self-contained mass about the size of a softball in my lower abdomen area,” he said. “I was very fortunate to not have any other ill effects as far as that goes.”

Armstrong saw a local doctor, one who had trained at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who referred him to a surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who had also trained at M.D. Anderson.

Armstrong had surgery to remove the mass and needed no chemotherapy or radiation. On July 28, Armstrong will join other bike riders and walkers in Damascus, Va., for the Third Annual Creeper Trail Ride to End Canc e r.

The event, sponsored by the Penny F. Garrett Sarcoma Foundation, is a benefit for rare cancer research at the M.D. Anderson. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines a rare disease as one with a prevalence of fewer than 200,000 in the United States. There are hundreds of different cancers that are rare — brain cancer, cervical cancer, gallbladder cancer, metastatic melanoma, all pediatric cancers, pancreatic cancer, sarcoma, stomach cancer and uterine cancer.

“Me and my buddies used to ride the Creeper Trail. We try to once a year. We decided to do it and raise money and know it goes to a great cause,” he said. “God really brought me through this whole ordeal in a great way. It’s something that’s very important in my life. He was very faithful to bring me through it and I try to remain faithful to him.”

Armstrong’s team this year includes Randy Osborne, Bobby Ford, Bobby Reynolds and Dwight Riner. They’ve set a fund-raising goal of $1,000.

In addition to the bike ride on the Creeper Trail, a 34-mile trail through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia that runs from Whitetop Mountain to Abingdon, the Creeper Trail Ride to End Cancer will also feature concerts, a silent auction, a five-mile walk and a one-mile walk.

For complete information, including how to register a team or make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.creepertrailridetoend? c ? a n c e r. c o m .

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