Dan Myers was living in Peoria, Ill., in 1999 when he underwent an outpatient surgery to remove a lump in his right arm.
The lump was thought to be nothing more than a fatty cyst and the surgery was supposed to be pretty routine.
When Myers woke up, he learned that what was believed to be a harmless cyst was something much more serious.
He had synovial sarcoma, an aggressive and rare form of cancer that affects the joints. He was quickly started on chemotherapy and was told there was a good chance his arm would have to be amputated.
Fast forward a couple of decades and Myers is at CARTI in Little Rock, both arms intact.
There is a tattoo on the inside of his right bicep that reads "The strong will rise." Under that is inked the date May 21, 1999, which was when his cancer was diagnosed.
His tattoo and the scar from the surgery that helped save his arm are reminders of his cancer battle, which lasted a little over a year. He lost a bit of muscle and some nerves in that arm to the disease, but he is cancer free and gets yearly checkups at CARTI.
On this April afternoon, though, the 48-year-old Myers is here to talk about the Tour de Rock, the annual bicycle ride and CARTI fundraiser scheduled for June 1. Along with being a cancer survivor, Myers, a quality engineer for Caterpillar, Inc., is an avid cyclist and is this year's Tour de Rock chairman.
The money raised from the annual event goes to CARTI's Patient Relief Fund, which helps patients with incidental expenses not covered by insurance.
"That is why I'm so passionate about CARTI and this ride," says Myers, who lives in Maumelle with his wife, Stephanie. They have one son, 23-year-old Zach.
Having help with expenses such as gas money for the drives to and from treatments and money for hotel rooms for visiting family members would have been huge when he was grappling with his cancer, he says.
"I think about all those trips I made back and forth to Chicago when I had my surgery. Gas cards, hotel stays, massage therapy, patient therapy, family therapy -- insurance doesn't pay for any of that. There is so much in that Patient Relief Fund that I would have loved to have. I could have used it so badly back then."
CARTI was founded in 1976 as Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute and now has 11 locations across the state.
Adam Head is CARTI's chief executive officer.
"We want to be able to get to patients faster," he says. "[Tour de Rock] funds will go toward transportation, like buying gas cards, so patients can get to one of our cancer centers if there is a need for a certain test or treatment. It's also for lodging assistance and other support programs."
Head will be among the 1,000 or so cyclists on the road June 1. It will be his first time doing the Tour.
"I'm not an avid rider, but I do ride. I like staying in shape," he says. "It's neat to be able to have a bike ride like this, and it's for a great cause."
This is the 16th year for the Tour, which is one of the largest in Arkansas and starts on Riverfront Drive near the Clinton Presidential Bridge in North Little Rock.
The four routes cover the tabletop-flat roads that pass by farmland to the southeast. There are four distances -- 25, 50, 62 and 100 miles. Each route has rest stops stocked with food and drinks, and Pulaski County sheriff's deputies will be stationed on parts of the routes.
Prices for the rides start at $55 for the 25-miler and top out at $70 for the 100-mile route. For $175, speedy riders can pedal the 100-mile course with a pace group and perhaps set a personal best time.
Of course, one needn't be fast to tackle the Tour.
"It's not a race," Myers says. "It doesn't matter if you're a recreational rider or a competitive rider, this is a perfect ride to go set those personal records. It's also a really good ride to find other people at the same level as you."
Official Tour jerseys are for sale for $100, and this year a new design in blue is available for cancer survivors.
"How cool would it be to see all these Tour de Rock jerseys and then you see a bright blue one? That's a survivor you can cheer on as you're on the route," Myers says.
A long, hot ride wouldn't be complete without a lively post-ride party, where riders can unwind and enjoy themselves off the bike. The Tour de Rock after party takes place at the Heifer International Pavilion with food, music, adult beverages, exhibitors and more.
"We have huge expectations for the after party," Myers says. "The Heifer venue is amazing."
Myers races his sleek, Arkansas-made Allied Cycle Works bicycle with the Little Rock-based Pinnacle Velo amateur cycling team. He has come a long way from 10 years ago, when he first moved to Arkansas.
"I was around 300 pounds and extremely out of shape," he says.
A friend loaned him a bicycle and he started riding on the weekends. He now weighs about "220ish," he says.
Chairman duties will keep him out of the saddle for this year's Tour.
"This is going to be the first year in while that I'm not riding," he says.
To register and for more information, see carti.ejoinme.org/tourderock2019.
Dan Myers lost part of his right bicep and tricep to cancer. His tattoo reads: “The strong will rise” and includes the date of his diagnosis — May 21, 1999.
High Profile on 05/19/2019
Print Headline: Tour de Rock chairman is also a cancer survivor