WORCESTER (CBS) – Police officer JD Daige spends his nights patrolling Worcester in his police cruiser and his days training for his very first Pan-Mass Challenge.
“I think it’s going to be more than what I imagined,” he told WBZ-TV.
Daige served two tours in Iraq and when he came home he faced a new battle – cancer.
“I was first diagnosed with testicular cancer when I was 29 years old,” he said. That cancer spread quickly. Daige has had two brain surgeries, two lung surgeries, two rounds of chemotherapy, two rounds of radiation, and two other surgeries – all in the last three years.
That also led to a strong bond with Chris Sweeney, his doctor at The Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Daige still remembers the reassuring words from their first meeting, “He said ‘let the healing begin.'”
And the healing started with a stationary bike in his hospital room on day one of chemotherapy.
“Who gets fitter on chemo?” Dr. Sweeney answered his own question with a broad smile, “JD.”
Sweeney said the exercise served Daige well.
“The reason why JD came out stronger is because he didn’t lose a second,” the doctor told WBZ.
“I asked about what I could do to move around,” said Daige. So the nurses brought in a bike. “I started hooked up to the IV’s and started pedaling. It felt great.”
Dr. Sweeney rode his first PMC last year and asked Daige to join him.
“I figured I’d give it a shot,” JD said, adding that he didn’t hesitate, even though the cancer cost him sections of both lungs.
“Being in Iraq… someone always had it worse than you did. There’s no reason to be negative about certain things and say I’ve had enough,” he said.
That drive and positive spirit will power him through the 192 miles on his bicycle with his doctor by his side.
“Doing it this year with JD is huge honor,” said Dr. Sweeney.
Daige insists the honor is all his. And all the money raised by his team “Thin Blue Ride” will be donated directly to Dr. Sweeney’s research.
While crossing that finish line in Provincetown is a huge milestone for all the riders it will be extra special for Daige. The weekend of the ride will mark one year that he has been cancer-free.
For more information on the PMC, visit pmc.org.
To make a donation, visit pmc.org/donation.asp
To make a donation to Jonathan Daige and the Thin Blue Ride, visit their web page.