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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 30, 2009

Riding it out
Overcoming cancer and spreading awareness

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALTAMONT — Two decades ago, the course of Kay and Craig Broeder’s lives shifted.

An ovarian cancer diagnosis for Mrs. Broeder came about five year into their marriage and today the pair is traveling around the country on bicycle to raise awareness about a disease that has symptoms not easily detected.  The symptoms include bloating, swelling, and abdomen cramping, said Mrs. Broeder.

At the age of 30, she went to the doctor with knee troubles and that visit saved her life, said her husband.  The doctor realized that some of her complaints were unrelated to her physical injury.  At her following annual exam, the doctor discovered a tender spot and found that Mrs. Broeder had stage 1 ovarian cancer.

The months that followed included surgery and chemotherapy treatments that have brought her 20-year anniversary of cancer survival.

“For most people, you don’t know until it’s too late,” said Mrs. Broeder on a recent stop near Altamont.

The diagnosis is hard to take said Mr. Broeder.  “Suddenly, there’s no kids.  Suddenly, you’re not sure she’s going to be around,” he said. 

Part of what the couple is working on during their journey is a documentary on young women facing the disease.  In Los Angeles, they met two girls who had been diagnosed at the ages of 13 and 14.  “How do you explain that to a boyfriend?” Mr. Broeder asked.

The idea for a bike trip came years ago, said Mr. Broeder, who has been biking since he was first given a Schwinn at the age of 16 in Keansburg, N.J.  He and his best friend took their first big trip to Sandy Hook, about 10 miles away on the Jersey shore, he said.

He began to ride seriously after joining the military in the early 1970s, where he met a man who gave him a touring bicycle.  He now rides his bike more than he drives his year-and-a-half old car, which has 4,000 miles on it.

Mr. Broeder has racked up several thousand miles on his trip so far, with his wife driving along with him.  They talk to about 20 to 30 people a day, he estimated, and have found that small towns go out of the way to welcome them. 

When they stopped in Friendship, N.Y., Mrs. Broeder said, the town lived up to its name as it was celebrating a community day with its first fire engine parked in front of the town hall.  The speaker announced the Broeders over the loud speaker, explaining their mission, and people came to them with donations.

They’re “trying to raise a million dollars, one dollar at a time,” Mrs. Broeder said.  So far, they’ve collected about $10,000, which will benefit research.

A little town next to the Mexican border in Arizona with nothing but a date farm, post office, grocery store, and bar made them right at home, said Mr. Broeder.  He went into the bar, greeted by two old dogs and a handful of people — “If they’re 30, they look 50; if they’re 50, they look 70,” he said — and the bartender gave them pizza and beer while everyone made donations.

Donations can also be made on the Broeders’ website, www.ov-can.org, or can be sent to: Craig and Kay Broeder Ovarian Cancer Preventive Health Research Foundation, American College of Sports Medicine, Atten. Jessica Hancock, 401 West Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN  46202-3233.

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