Redwood City Woman Rides for Survival

Courtney Caccia was moved to join Cycle for Survival after losing her best friend to a rare cancer, and then discovering she had one as well.


It's rare that, when someone donates to cancer research or a cancer fundraiser, that he or she gets to see exactly where that money goes.

But, Courtney Caccia of Redwood City says, that's exactly what you can expect when supporting a Cycle for Survival event, to benefit the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSK).

This Saturday, Feb. 1, Caccia will be "cycling for survival" in San Francisco to benefit the organization that supported both her best friend's battle with a rare cancer, as well as her own.

Caccia and Jennifer Goodman Linn met on their first day of their freshman year of college at Duke University.

"We were close friends ever since," Caccia recalled.

In fact, Caccia said Linn was there for her like no one else when Caccia was diagnosed in 1996 with chorio carcinoma, a gynecological cancer that started in her uterus but metastasized to her lungs.

At that point, Caccia was living in Los Angeles, and Linn in New York - but that didn't stop Linn from being there for her friend.

"When I found out that I was sick, she was one of the first friends to start looking into plane reservations and come out to stay with me," Caccia recalled. "She was there to lift my spirits, gave me pep talks, and gave me support, throughout her stay with me, but beyond as well."

Later, Linn herself was also diagnosed with cancer - a sarcoma. Unfortunately, Linn lost her battle and passed away in 2011.

Before she died, though, she and her husband, David Linn, helped found the annual Cycle for Survival events, to raise money for MSK.

The event, which partners with Equinox gyms, is a stationary bicycle ride.

Much like a marathon event, participants form teams and raise donations. 

"You ride an indoor bike, or a stationary bike, for 4 hours. Team members take turn riding," Caccia explained. "The average raised is $1,000 per bike, though larger teams can have more than one bike."

Cycle for Survival is now in its seventh year, and takes place simultaneously in cities across the country. This Saturday, in addition to the Bay Area event at an Equinox gym in San Francisco, events will also be taking place in Long Island and Miami.

Then, each weekend through through March 3, events will also take place in Chicago, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, New York City and Connecticut.

Caccia said, being a part of Cycle for Survival and raising money for MSK is incredibly rewarding, because she can see so clearly exactly what the money she helps raise benefits.

"From the standpoint of a worthwhile cause, this is one of the few places where your money immediately goes to supporting people with cancer. Every dollar that gets raised for Cycle gets put into research, both new and ongoing, at MSK," she said. "So, 100 percent goes into research, and it happens generally within six months, so patients really get to see immediate benefits from this research."

"Not many events have such an immediate effect - that's really important, and a great reason to support the cause," she added.

According to MSK, in its seven years, Cycle for Survival has raised more than $18 million for rare cancer research, which has helped fund more than 50 clinical trials and research studies since 2007. 

Cycle for Survival 2013 is expected to be the largest event yet, spanning 10 locations in eight states and bringing together more than 13,000 cyclers nationwide.

"With the support from Cycle for Survival, we are making real progress in rare cancer research," said Dr. Gary Schwartz, Chief of the Melanoma and Sarcoma Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. "This past year at the Annual Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting, Memorial Sloan-Kettering presented positive results from three studies partially funded by Cycle for Survival, and we are advancing these and multiple other studies on rare cancers into the next phases of clinical discovery."

Caccia said, those who wish to help this research can donate to Cycle for Survival through the website, which she says is very user-friendly. 

Visit www.cycleforsurvival.org.

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