Nov 12, 2011 View Comments by

How would you take the news that you have pancreatic cancer, which for many people means an early grave? If you’re former Army Ranger Chris Calaprice you’d decide that it’s a great time for a motorcycle ride. But you wouldn’t just cruise around the neighborhood to clear your head; you’d go to every state. On Nov. 20, 2010, Chris and friends celebrated the end of his nine-month motorcycle tour to each of the 50 states, which covered 42,000 grueling miles, at Señor Fred’s Restaurant in Sherman Oaks, CA. Chris chose that number because that’s how many folks in the U.S. are diagnosed each year with this terrible disease.

By 43, Chris could have died three times, having survived pancreatic cancer twice and also melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. After fighting sickness and enduring treatment for seven years, Chris was tired of hearing that pancreatic cancer is a death sentence. Following a relapse in 2004 he received a four-drug chemotherapy regimen that he remains on today. He now shows no evidence of the disease.

Chris decided that he had to do something, and Road 2 A Cure was born. He and his wife, Jennifer, stuffed everything into an RV and hit the road. While Jennifer drove, Chris braved the elements riding a Victory Vision™ motorcycle (generously provided by Polaris®) to every part of the U.S. and even into Canada, to carry his message. Enduring chemotherapy treatments every other month, he’d be off the bike for a few days then back on for hundreds of miles each day. He met with legislators, doctors, researchers, medical centers, survivors and families who’ve lost loved ones to pancreatic cancer, all while risking his own health and using his gift of time to make a difference.

Since Chris and Jennifer have returned they’ve struggled to get their lives back to normal, but they continue to work on raising money and cancer awareness. They’re also doing post-production work on a professional video of their trip. Chris was on Victory’s recent World’s Longest Test Ride to the Sturgis Rally, and he plans to race in the NORRA Mexican 1000 in 2012.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths yet it receives less than 2 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s annual budget. Chris says, “We set out on the Road 2 A Cure to change the nation’s view of pancreatic cancer from one of hopelessness to hope, and to capture it in documentary style. My wife and I paid a high price to bring pancreatic-cancer awareness to America, but it is imperative for those millions of people out there being crucified by this unforgiving disease.” He continues, “What we learned is that cancer funding is largely driven by big marketing dollars and politics, but we can change that through our democracy; survivors and supporters need to exercise their voices. Knowing you have pancreatic cancer early and finding a specialist gives you the power to act quickly so you don’t die, quite frankly. But the current level of funding and federal support does not allow most this advantage.”

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