Meet PMCer Paul Schaye.
Paul Schaye founder and director of the New York-based mergers and acquisitions firm, Chestnut Hill Partners, is channeling the same focus he has used to run this business, which boasts more than $5 billion in transactions, and manage his hobby as an extreme sports athlete, which includes competing in triathlons, marathons, and long-distance cycling events (as in 750 miles in 90 hours – for fun), to manage his treatment for a rare, stage four stomach cancer, and raise money for research to cure the disease.
And he’s not doing it alone.
Like any successful entrepreneur, Paul has built a team, dubbed Paul’s Posse, which is made up of 40 of the most influential people in business, cancer research, and cycling, to help him achieve his goal.
In October 2006, a few weeks before he was to run the New York Marathon, Paul was putting a package in the trunk of a taxi when he thought he strained his back. After a few days of back pain, he set up an appointment with a doctor / friend, who scheduled him for an MRI. Within days, Paul got the call.
“The call that no one ever wants to get, the call that changes everything, the call that literally redefines your life,” he specifies. “The call led to an appointment, which led to a test and then a scan, which led to more calls, appointments, tests and scans, and when the dust settled, around 72 hours after the original call, I got the verdict,” he says.
A tumor, larger than a baseball, was growing in his stomach. It was a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), stage IV stomach cancer that had spread to his liver. This was all hard to believe, as he hadn’t experienced one symptom.
Most people with this type of cancer don’t live longer than two years after diagnosis.
“Cancer is something other people get. I ride bikes and do triathlons. I raise money for cancer research. I shouldn’t have cancer, but I do,” Paul says.
For the past 12 years, Paul has ridden 190 miles across Massachusetts in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge.
Paul has ridden in the PMC for the fun of it, for the athletic challenge, and to raise money for the Jimmy Fund because he grew up in Boston.
Now, however, raising money for cancer research is not just a good idea or a nice thing to do, it is the main passion in Paul’s life.
In November 2007, Paul withstood a six-hour surgery to remove much of his liver in hopes of reducing the amount of cancer in his body, thus increasing the ability of the tumor-starving drug, Gleevec to do its job. Gleevec was first used to treat GIST patients by Dana-Farber oncologist and leading GIST specialist, Dr. George Demetri.
It took nearly four months for Paul to recover from the surgery, which was far more time than he’d mentally allotted. In 2008, Paul’s Posse raised $500,000 that was earmarked specifically for Dr. Demetri’s research at Dana-Farber. They even got Dr. Demetri to ride with them – a man who, by his own admission, had not spent much time outside – and now he’s hooked too. The team’s 2009 total raised was $231,768, an amazing number in the depths of a tough economic time. Once again, the money raised supports Dr. Demetri’s work.
While he’s ridden through pain and cancer treatment in the past, Paul may have sit out the 2010 PMC. But “Paul’s Posse” will be on the road raising money.
“The aftermath of my latest surgery may put me on the sidelines as a reluctant — but very enthusiastic – cheerleader,” Paul said. “I didn’t pick this fight with cancer, but I remain ferocious. Enduring three major abdominal surgeries has only made me stronger and more determined to take each month, week and day as a gift.”