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"Then It Hit Me: I Have Cancer"

June 13, 2014
Lebanon, NH

by Robin Dutcher

Laurie Mintzer says her “Aha!” moment came as she waited to check in for her appointment at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. “I looked around at the people coming and going and it hit me: I am one of these people. I have cancer. I guess I thought it would never happen to me.”

At the very end of training for her first Prouty Ultimate in 2012, Mintzer fell on her bike and injured her shoulder. Determined to make the two-day ride anyway, she completed course, enduring great pain and earning the respect of her fellow riders. But while recovering from her injuries she discovered a growth in her armpit that was cancerous.

Supporting cancer research that may uncover new treatments has new meaning

Just 49, Mintzer had been diagnosed with Occult Triple Negative Breast Cancer, an aggressive type of cancer with no known receptors for targeted treatment. “I knew I wanted to take this diagnosis to NCCC,” she says. For nine years she had been coming to the Prouty, raising funds to support the research and care offered at Norris Cancer Center. “This is where I do my rides, and this is where I want to be treated.”

Fortunately Mintzer’s own treatment has been successful—when she rides through the Prouty’s balloon-covered finish arch in July, she will be 11 months cancer free. But raising funds to support new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer has special significance now. Prouty funds support innovative cancer research that may uncover new treatments for the aggressive type of cancer she was fortunate enough beat.

A Prouty cyclist since 2004

“My life has been touched by cancer since I was a child,” says Mintzer, who is the fifth woman in her family diagnosed with breast cancer. “I first got involved with the Prouty to honor family and friends whose lives had been changed by cancer. I was passionate about raising money to fight cancer.”

Mintzer was hooked on the Prouty after her first ride in 2004, and over the years she’s introduced others to the event. “The high you get when you’re done is like nothing you’ve ever experienced in life,” she says. “There’s no way to describe to people how it feels to be part of this, to see everyone—even cancer patients and survivors—doing what they can to fight back.”

From Prouty participant to Prouty survivor: completing the circle

In 2013 Mintzer rode the 55-mile route of the Prouty while still in treatment. This year she says her Prouty Ultimate ride will bring her full circle: “I believed in the work at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, raised money for it, and then I experienced first-hand their excellent cancer treatment and care. And now I’ll ride again.”

About the Prouty Ultimate:

The Prouty began in 1982 when four nurses rode their bicycles 100 miles to honor an inspiring patient, Audrey Prouty. In 2008, The Prouty Ultimate was added, a two-day, 200-mile ride that starts in Manchester, NH, and takes cyclist through the countryside of New Hampshire and Vermont.

The 33rd Annual Prouty will be held on July 11 and 12, 2013 in Hanover, New Hampshire. To learn more about the Prouty Ultimate, or any of the other events, visit www.theprouty.org.

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