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Early warning procedure helps more melanoma patients than ever beat their cancer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - In the past, George Ostrander, a veteran triathlon competitor, would have focused his training on qualifying for a spot in the top Ironman competition in Hawaii. Now his concentration lies solely on raising money to continue the fight against sarcoma, the deadly cancer that took the life of his wife, Missy, after nine years.
By participating in the Lake Placid, N.Y., Ironman competition on July 27, Ostrander, who lives in Berkley, hopes to raise $50,000 through "Miles for Missy," a campaign created by Missy Ostrander's family in her honor. Its goal is to help build awareness and continue research for leiomyosarcoma cancer. All proceeds from the race will go to the Robert Urich Fund, which supports sarcoma research at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. As part of the competition, Ostrander will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles for a total of 140.6 miles.
Unlike most Ironman competitors, Ostrander's training routine reflects the reality of single parenthood. With job commitments and time spent with daughters Megan, 10, and Sydney, 3, Ostrander forgoes most daytime road training for late night running and biking on stationary equipment in his basement. Beginning his workout at 10:30 p.m. and finishing in the middle of the night leaves Ostrander little time for sleep, before the cycle of work, family and training begins all over again.
"He has always been an avid runner and he still has that same drive, but now George has taken his motivation in a different direction," says Bill Murcko, Missy's father.
Laurence Baker, D.O., deputy director at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center and associate director for clinical research there treated Missy throughout her battle with cancer.
"Sarcoma is a unique cancer because it strikes people of all ages. It's particularly devastating when it attacks young, vibrant people like Missy Ostrander," says Baker. "She was a brave woman, and her husband's efforts now are remarkable. All of us on the sarcoma team at U-M are so grateful to Mr. Ostrander for channeling his loss into such an amazing physical feat to support our work efforts. I was fortunate to have known Missy well enough to know she would have been very proud of her husband. He's a true hero."
Ostrander has his sights set on the Lake Placid Ironman for a reason. The July race is part of the Janus Charity Challenge, sponsored by the financial services company Janus to encourage Ironman triathletes to raise money for worthy causes. Through "Miles for Missy," Ostrander's goal is to be the top individual money raiser-a goal which would award a $10,000 bonus donation to "Miles for Missy" from Janus.
Last year, the highest amount raised was $33,218. Ostrander and "Miles for Missy" plan to top that.
Ostrander considers the pledges made by supporters as motivation to finish the grueling Ironman. Pledging can be made per total miles (140) or per individual leg of the race (swim, bike, run).
"This is about honoring someone's memory, but it's also about sparing others the same grief we've gone through. No family should have to go through the pain of losing a wife or a daughter or a mother," says Murcko.
Written by: Erin Block