Cancer has affected our lives. Shem had a cancer scare in 2010. Luckily the growth they removed was benign, but we’ve seen too many friends and family fight this disease. Some won. Some have lost. Our goal is to raise $10 for every mile we ride on this border-to-border journey. That means $17,695. It’s a lot of money, but cancer is an enemy worth fighting. We have chosen to raise with the Huntsman Cancer Foundation because 100 percent of your donation will be used for cancer research and treatment. If you would like to join us in the fight, please donate now.
On the right is a map showing our fundraising progress. The red line that starts at the Canadian border shows how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. If we’re raising $10 per mile, then so far we have gone 11,002 miles, almost to Hatch, UT.
Below is an honor roll of those who have fought cancer. If you or someone you know has dealt with this disease, we would love to add them to this list. Contact us.
Fred Abernethy grew up in the Oklahoma dust bowl during the Great Depression. He enlisted in the Army in World War II and fought at Anzio, Italy. He was an iron worker, and volunteered with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office and the Utah and National Pony Express Associations. He was generous with his time and means. He went out of his way to help others. He was quick to hand out quarters and to tell a joke, many of which can’t be shared in polite company. He lost his fight with bladder cancer in 2017 at the age of 92.
H.L. was Shem’s great grandfather. He was a migrant farmer in the Oklahoma dust bowl during the Great Depression. He lived in a trailer behind his son’s home. He spoke in a southern drawl and smelled of pipe tobacco. Shem’s last memory of him was in a hospital. Since children weren’t allowed inside, Shem walked around back and stood outside his room. He waved through the heavily mirrored glass. He died of pancreatic cancer in 1983 at the age of 81.
My mom was smart and wickedly funny. I learned to love books from the stories she read me. Mom struggled with many challenges. In 1984 she was a cook in a small-town diner. She went back to school and became a paralegal and worked for the Utah Attorney General’s office. She is an example to me of self-improvement and working hard to achieve your dreams. We used to watch bad movies together and mock them. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2006. After treatments, her cancer went into remission. It came back in 2009 and she chose not to fight a second time. She died from the disease in 2010 at the age of 56.
Keith Abraham is an Outdoor Ethics Advocate with the Boy Scouts of America. He’s as friendly and gregarious as you would expect from someone who spends his work life teaching young people to love and respect nature. In his own words: “During a routine Boy Scout physical in 2019 they ‘rang the bell’ and I went to a urologist who had a prostate biopsy taken that showed I had prostate cancer and we commenced with brachytherapy radiation treatment. In the spring of 2021, while getting in shape what were later identified as complications to the earlier radiation treatment turned up in the form of intense pain in the perineum, blood and blood clots in the urine as well. At the time the cause was unknown so after a CAT scan and MRI I was sent to Huntsman and a grape size mass was identified on my right kidney was also. In January 2022, I had a serious play date at Huntsman Cancer Center with their Da Vinci surgical robot who removed the bottom 1/3rd of my right kidney and the tumor contained therein.”
Fourteen-year-old Abby can bake addictive treats, install a wood floor, build a model engine, solo on the oboe (or bass), take down her notes in Greek, write computer code, or babysit an active toddler—and do it all with style! Her preferred outfit is all-black clothing and boots, and she can find the good in any movie or book villain. She’s got a tender heart and gives the very best hugs. Abby was diagnosed in November 2020 with thyroid cancer. She had surgery to remove her tumor (which she nicknamed Carcin) and her thyroid and now takes hormone replacement medication daily. Because the cancer spread to her lymph nodes, she underwent radiation therapy in June. The results look good so far.
Jodi Orgill Brown
Jodi is an interactions expert, author and an inspirational speaker. In 2008 she started having vertigo headaches, ringing in her ears, and massive headaches. In April 2009, the doctors discovered she had a tumor in her brain. They removed 80 percent of it in a surgery. This resulted in a spinal fluid leak, hearing loss, and facial paralysis. She still deals with migraines, and some residual dizzy spells. Jodi has undergone 15 reconstructive and reparative surgeries. She and her husband have four children.
Rachel Cottle is a wife and mom with two busy little boys. She and her husband were struggling to open a bakery during the pandemic when breast cancer came into her life. Doctors told her that not many years ago her aggressive form of cancer would have been incurable. New treatments helped her beat the cancer. After a period of remission, her cancer returned, this time in her brain. Rachel is fighting again. She is receiving radiation therapy. We wish her the best in this fight.
My grandfather served on the USS Mississippi during World War II. He was close enough that he could hear the ceremony ending the war in Tokyo Harbor. Ralph became an optometrist after the war, running the Optical Shoppe in Sugarhouse, UT. He loved fishing and gardening. His garden was a half acre. In 1986 he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He won the fight, but only had half a lung left. He was a quiet man who served others. He and my grandmother served as Conference Center missionaries for 10 years. Ralph was 86 when he died of respiratory failure after a surgery in 2011.
LaRene was one of my closest friends. She was kind, supportive, and enthusiastic to almost everyone she met. Everyone she talked with they were her favorite person. She was the assistant managing editor for The Ensign. LaRene was the author of several books. She was a great photographer and a wizard at Photoshop. She fought cancer three times: breast cancer around 2000, uterine cancer around 2017, and she was diagnosed with colon cancer a few days before her death from the disease in 2018.
Mike is an airline pilot. In February 2012, a few months after his youngest son was born, Mike woke up with blood in urine. A doctor diagnosed him with renal carcinoma. Mike went to the Huntsman Cancer Institute where they removed a football-sized tumor, along with his kidney a month later. In 2017, he was declared to be in remission. He and his wife, Adrienne, have been married for 30 years. They have three sons and two daughters-in-law. When he’s not flying, Mike likes to hunt and fish.
Lisa Mangum is managing editor of Shadow Mountain Publishing and LaRene’s daughter. She is the author of four novels and is well known throughout the writing community for her knowledge on story structure, editing and most everything else about writing. Lisa is generous with her time and has the heart of a teacher. She loves the TV show Supernatural. She and her husband, Tracy, have a cat named Loki. Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2020. She finished radiation treatment in October.
Mark Ramos is my stepfather-in-law. He married my wife’s mother and took on the duties of parenting four girls and a boy. Mark installs water softeners for a living and takes no greater pleasure than in buying presents for his grandkids. He has watched our home on occasion while we’re out of town and we usually come home to find that he has made some improvement to the house. Mark had trouble breathing one day and went to the hospital. The found carcinoid tumors, one right above his windpipe, and another in two lower lobes of his right lung. He underwent surgery and a painful recovery. He lost part of his right lung. He has been cancer free since the surgery.
Julene Larsen Romney was a schoolteacher before marrying Richard Romney and had a positive influence on many students. She was the mother of five. In 2002, she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. She fought valiantly for two and a half years but the cancer spread to her liver and lungs. She passed away on Sunday, July 3, 2005. At the time she was serving as a stake Primary president, and the children of the stake had planned to sing for her. Instead, they came and sang to her husband and children just after she left this world. She was 53 years old.
After Julene died, Richard M. Romney, who is a writer and photographer for the Friend, For the Strength of Youth, and Liahona magazines, raised five children as a single father. In 2006 he nearly died from diverticulitis and peritonitis. In 2009, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and in 2010 had his prostate removed. Now cancer free, he remarried in 2014. He and his wife Kathy have a blended family of 11 children and 15 grandchildren. Because of his family history, he encourages all of his children and grandchildren to eat healthy foods and have regular checkups, screenings, and colonoscopies. At age 68 he is still working full time.
Dr. Mike Sweeney was one of my favorite college professors. He taught journalism at Utah State University when I went there. He truly cared for each student and would critique my work in such a way that even though there was a lot to correct, I felt it had potential. He later moved to Ohio University. He was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer in August 2014. He fought long and hard, but he passed away on Jan. 15, 2022.