Local cancer survivors come full circle with Obliteride

Two local men are among the riders in the upcoming event, which benefits Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Darren Rozendaal is always thankful when he gets on his bicycle and goes for a ride.

Whether he is training for endurance events, or simply soaking in the glow of a summer day around Puget Sound, Rozendaal never takes the rides for granted.

But when he hops on his bike this weekend, and sets out on the 50-mile course as part of Obliteride, it will mean a little more.

“That’s a hard thing to say, what one thing means the most,” he said. “This is a way to thank the people that work at any step in the process.”

Rozendaal is all too familiar with the process of cancer treatment, after being diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkins Lymphoma 11 years ago.

After nine months of chemotherapy, he still wasn’t entirely cancer-free. Luckily for he and his wife, a stem cell transplant at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance left him healthy, if worn down from nearly a year of intense treatments.

“One of the biggest things was seeing how much help and support you can get,” he said. “When you see how good people can be at their jobs and just at being people, that is pretty powerful.”

Rozendaal was able to get back to work not long after leaving inpatient treatment, and started playing soccer and regaining his active lifestyle in short order. Four years ago, he decided to take on a marathon and when he and three friends — one a fellow cancer survivor — saw news about Obliteride last year, it was “a no-brainer,” for them to participate.

Paul Weigel, an Issaquah resident and father, had a similar feeling about taking part when he first heard about the ride. He saw the giant banners hanging from SCCA when he would drive to treatment, and promised himself that he would see things come full circle when he took part after completing his treatment.

“I couldn’t be more than two minutes from a bathroom,” he recalled. “I knew I wanted to be part of it.”

Weigel is set to take on the 100-mile course, and said it is especially meaningful as a survivor to have the chance to honor those who assist in the cancer treatment process. He recently finished an Ironman in Whistler, British Columbia, and completed a half-marathon while still undergoing treatment — chemotherapy pack and all.

“I was going to fight it,” he said.

That fighting spirit is the binding tie for Obliteride participants, sponsors, volunteers and fundraisers, all of whom man a station in the ongoing battle against cancer.

“This is a phenomenal way to wrap up this year,” Weigel said. “There are so many people who are doing this so other people can make it.”