I recently saw a blurb about a local man that mentioned how he crossed North America on a trip to promote awareness of hereditary cancer, cancer that he himself has. Alone the tale is extraordinary, but there is so much more to the story. As I looked into it, I found out about a man who is the epitome of what it means to be truly Well-Met.
Todd Spurrier of Cascade, WI, inspired by Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Round and Long Way Down chronicled motorbike adventures which also supported charities, decided to do something similar to raise awareness for Cancer which took his father as well as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) which was the root of his father’s colon cancer and his two sisters, niece, nephew and himself have. But it’s bigger that. He also wanted to bring attention to Desmoid Tumor Research – you see Todd has an inoperable intra-abdominal desmoid tumor which made it personal beyond even how personal immediate family is. And yet there’s more, there’s also MS which his sister was diagnosed with a few years ago. So first and foremost the trip was about hereditary diseases from cancer to MS.
If you caught that above, Todd was planning this trip while he himself has inoperable cancer. After his father passed away he started to have GI examinations and in 1985 he and a sister each had laparoscopic total abdominal colectomy – an operation that removes the large intestine to treat their familial polyposis, the FAP mentioned above that is an inherited condition in which hundreds to thousands of polyps form throughout the entire length of the large intestine – the hope is that it prevents or at least pushes back the timing of possibly developing tumors. As he grew up he ended up being a freelancer and did not have insurance and missed regular checkups but in 2007 he finally went in and many polyps were found. Luckily he is part Native American (more on that later) and was able to obtain assistance from his Menomonee tribe and have surgery (actually surgeries) which revealed desmoid tumors that were in a location that would not give surgeons enough small intestine to work with to do the procedure – i.e. it is inoperable and there to stay. Other surgeries were done to work around it for him but needless to say for he is indefinitely compromised from a health standpoint – in a big way. There is a lot more to the story, the full details of his discover, diagnosis, and procedure can be found at his web site here.
Rather than wallowing in his plight, Todd wanted to fight back. He decided to do the ultimate Well-Met thing – as a reminder being a Well-Met Man is being socially responsible and/or responsibly social part of which is raising awareness and funds for causes in ways that appeal to men – and decided to incorporate something he loved into awareness and fund raising efforts. You see, Todd has a love for motorcycles and decided to do a cross-continent tour which he called the Destinaton X Ride. Because of his experiences and loves, he not only used it to raise awareness of hereditary diseases but also his Native American heritage, and also the health of rivers and water quality since his other love is fishing. He left this past July (2012) and in December is close to completing the 19,000 mile trip.
Wow. This isn’t the first time we have seen someone go out on a limb, or a road as it were, to make such as big statement for their own or a friend or family member’s health issue (wheelchair expeditions, doing a marathon in firefighter’s equipment, and so on) but I am truly inspired by what Mr. Spurrier has done.
You may have noticed that we consider environmental matters part of the concerns of being Well-Met, since part of our own Well-ness includes the wellness of where we live so his interests in rivers and their health is right up our alley. But we also like to stress pride in who you are and where you are from partly in our belief of supporting your community (Milwaukee for us) but we also think it means having pride in your race, culture, and nationality and so his advocacy of Native American issues is impressive as well. Add it all up and you have a very big, very impressive package.
Well-Met, Todd Spurrier, best of luck in your efforts and your life – may it be a long one.
If you want to keep track of what and how he is doing, you can check his web site or follow him on Facebook. If you would like to support Todd’s efforts, you can donate easily via Paypal or Facebooks’ FundRazr app and you can also wear your support with Destination X shirts hoodies, and stickers the proceeds of which go back to his causes.