This summer, Mike Cesarini, 36, of Duxbury, will be riding in his third Pan-Massachusetts Challenge. Cesarini is a Brockton Police Officer, a father of two daughters who are 8 and 10 years old, and the loving husband of a woman who has terminal cancer.
Maura, 42, has gastrointestinal stromal tumor, otherwise known as GIST, a rare form of cancer. While there is no cure for GIST, Cesarini will ride his bike 190 miles in the 32nd annual Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC), to raise money for adult and pediatric cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This year, Cesarini hopes to raise $15,000 that will be specifically earmarked for research for GIST.
Mike and Maura first met in the police academy in 1995, where they were assigned as running partners. Before being diagnosed with cancer, Maura was a police detective in Braintree. In 1998, Mike and Maura married. Their first daughter was born New Years Day, 2001. Just one year later, Maura was pregnant again.
“Six months into the pregnancy, Maura started to feel pain,” Cesarini remembers. “She went to her obstetrician who found what they thought was a large cyst in Maura’s abdomen.”
Maura’s pain worsened and subsequent ultrasounds showed the cyst was growing larger. Eventually the doctors induced labor and delivered the baby a month early. A week later, Maura went in for surgery to have the cyst removed and learned that it wasn’t a cyst, but cancer. She underwent another surgery to have parts of her stomach, pancreas and her entire spleen had been removed. The bad news was that the many lesions on her liver could not be removed.
Cesarini juggled his wife’s treatment at Dana-Farber with caring for his two daughters, then a newborn and a toddler. Now, in 2011, Mike continues to care for his girls and his wife, while working as a police officer and training to ride in the PMC.
Cesarini rides to raise money for Dana-Farber in hopes of one day finding a cure for Maura’s cancer. Through the PMC, he raised the $10,000 necessary to purchase a luminometer, special device that allowed researchers to screen new drugs for GIST in weeks rather than months.
The Cesarinis have been experiencing the benefits of funds raised by the PMC. For the past few months, Maura has been engaged in a new clinical trial administered at Dana-Farber that hopes to stabilize her tumor. The Cesarinis go to Boston several times a week for treatments, blood tests, CT scans and MRIs.
“Although I am unable to directly research Maura’s cancer, I am able to ride to raise money,” says Cesarini. “I am very lucky to see that my fundraising dollars has directly helped the doctors at Dana-Farber get even closer to finding a cure for my wife’s cancer each day.”
Since Cesarini’s first ride, he has raised more than $25,000 and aims to raise another $15,000 this year. Cesarini hopes his fundraising dollars can help researchers purchase a new machine that will assist with furthering GIST research.
His donations come from family and friends, as well as people from all over the world, such as Canada, Ireland, Italy and Australia, due to his wife’s GIST support group and community.
To donate to Mike Cesarini, visit his PMC Profile page.