For the past 15 years, Don Benovitz, 69, of Natick, and his wife Martha Fagan have ridden in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, a two day 190-mile bike ride across the state of Massachusetts that aims to raise millions of dollars for cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
They ride with Team Perini and raise money for the Quality of Life Clinic at Dana-Farber, a clinic to help cancer survivors manage the long-term effects of cancer. Since they began riding they have raised close to $200,000 for Dana-Farber.
What they didn’t know when they began riding in 1996 was that Benovitz would one day be a cancer survivor who could utilize the clinic’s services.
Benovitz was diagnosed with prostate cancer and melanoma in July 2007. After undergoing surgeries to rid his body of the cancers, he was cancer free for about a year and a half until doctors discovered traces of prostate cancer again in 2009.
A course of radiation treatment was recommended, and for seven weeks, five days a week, Benovitz trekked from Natick to Boston to receive radiation treatments which concluded in December, 2009
Benovitz began to make the most of his trip to Boston by riding his bike, when weather permitted, to and from his treatments from Newton with Jeanne Cowan and Barney Hass, local residents, and fellow longtime PMCers and Team Perini teammates.
“When we were riding to MGH, it was getting dark early in the evening,” Benovitz says. “The doctors would see me in my spandex and know I needed to get out of there so I could bike back before it got dark, so they would make sure to get me into treatment quickly.”
Although he often got strange looks from fellow patients as he entered the waiting room in his PMC spandex and bike shoes, Benovitz was determined that the long treatment would not get him down. He cites the 26-mile round trip as one of the things that helped him maintain a positive attitude.
“These little adventures from Newton to Boston reminded me how fortunate I was to enjoy riding with good friends, and certainly helped reduce the stress associated with the recurrence of the cancer,” he says. “It was very helpful emotionally.”