As 11-year-old Steven Hill pedaled his way home, he saw all the cars parked outside his parents’ house. He knew something big had happened.
Steve was aware of his dad’s myxoid liposarcoma—a rare cancer of connective tissue—but he didn’t know how far it had spread. “I realized later that he was far sicker than I ever knew,” says Steve, injury and prevention coordinator at UW Hospitals and Clinics. His dad died that day in 1981.
Steve’s wife Vicki Hill, vice president of UW Health at The American Center, also lost her dad to cancer. He was initially diagnosed with Stage I adenocarcinoma of the lung, and Vicki talked with her dad’s doctor in Arkansas, who said that he was lucky that the cancer was caught early and recommended surgery. She wanted a second opinion and had her dad’s scans sent to UW Hospital.
This time the diagnosis was Stage IV adenocarcinoma of the lung. He came to UW Carbone Cancer Center for treatment. Anne Traynor, his medical oncologist at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, helped develop a treatment plan that allowed him to receive the care he needed while coordinating with oncologists in Arkansas and Florida (winter home), which enabled him to have a coordinated plan of care while enjoying the remainder of his life.
“I learned a lot about the clinical trials that he either was or wasn’t eligible for, and it made me aware of all the research being done and how much more research needed to be done,” Vicki says. “The other thing that really stood out to me was that the UW Carbone Cancer Center is a gem. There are other parts in the country that don’t have the clinical or research capabilities that we have here in Madison, Wisconsin.”
When the UW Carbone Cancer Center launched The Ride in 2016 to raise money for cancer research, the Hills immediately got on board.
They will participate in The Ride again this year, raising money for research aimed at improving treatments and helping patients and families through the many challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis.
With the many different types and disease sites, various treatment modalities and the effects of the disease and treatment on patients’ daily function, the cancer research umbrella is broad and the need for funding is great.
“Of course everyone wants a cure, but it’s not one disease,” Steve says. “There certainly has been progress, but it is so complex and so much more research is needed.”
Steve, who works as a physical therapist, would like to see research that helps reduce the impact of cancer and treatment side effects on people’s daily lives. It’s something he thinks about every time he’s on bike.
“When I ride, I often reflect on the thought that there are people who wish they could crank the pedals around just once,” Steve says. “It’s such a privilege to be able to ride a bike. I get a lot of happiness from riding, and I don’t take it for granted as I realize there are those who can’t.”
By participating in The Ride, the Hills are connecting with colleagues, patient and families who have been affected by cancer. Vicki will be co-captain of the UW Health Team and looks forward to a great turnout.
“The Ride is so meaningful because it’s all about health and wellness and bringing people together around a cause that affects everyone,” Vicki says. “For me, participation is part of the grieving process—giving back, hoping others don’t have to go through what we went through. I’m hopeful that with valuable research support and the intellectual capacity of the Carbone Cancer Center we will continue to improve outcomes for future cancer patients and their families.”
Join the fight now at theridewi.org/register.