Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cancer’s toll on wife pushes man to Ride with Lance Armstrong

Stephen Moxey’s competitive spirit will not be all that’s pushing him to keep up with cycling legend Lance Armstrong.

The memory of his wife, who died of breast cancer at just 40, and the difficult journey all cancer patients face will have him pedalling hard during the Ride with Lance fundraiser next month.

“If I keep that in mind, I think I’ll make it,” Moxey said.

The Kitchener man is training diligently since signing up a few weeks ago for the Aug. 27 event benefitting the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre.

Donations are currently at about $324,000. Last year’s ride raised $1.2 million, the same as the previous year.

This is the fourth time Armstrong, a cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner, will lead the 120-kilometre route through the region’s countryside in support of local cancer programs and patient care.

There’s still room for more riders, who must raise at least $20,000 to join. Out of the 50 available spots, 36 cyclists are registered.

Moxey’s goal is $50,000. Already he’s at $22,000 and his fundraising will get a big boost from his company and its many customers. Moxey and his wife, Melody, started Economy Group, which runs Economy Lube locations across Ontario. The company will match $1 donations on oil changes until the ride.

“She really cared about all her employees,” said Chris Muter, who is vice-president of operations and worked alongside Melody. “She was always there for everybody else.”

When she died, he said, “the company went through a very hard time.”

Melody celebrated her 40th birthday with a big party just a few weeks before she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and aggressive type. Surgeries and chemotherapy didn’t slow the disease, and she died six months later.

“There was really no way of stopping it,” said Moxey, 46.

Moxey didn’t realize at first the seriousness of the cancer, believing treatment would save her. Then he had to come to terms with the news the cancer was terminal.

He would lose his wife, whom he met in high school, and the couple’s two young daughters Mindy and Priscilla would lose their mother.

Melody remained resolute.

“She was really strong,” he said. “Nothing seemed to faze her.”

Suddenly, Moxey became a full-time father on top of running a growing business. A few years later, Moxey is adjusting to life with just his daughters, now 9 and 5.

“It’s amazing what you can go through and prosper still,” he said. “It’s been a challenge, for sure.”

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