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Cycle for Survival spotlight: Evan Freiberg

What's your team's origin story? 

My brother, Sandy, heard about Cycle for Survival in 2017 and put a team together in Boston, where he lives. Then, my brother-in-law Rich, who works for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, started a team in New York, so I had family and friends riding on separate teams in different cities. In 2018, we combined them to form Evan's Energy, named so because battling cancer, working as a full-time radiologist, and being a dad requires a good amount of energy.

What does having a Cycle for Survival team mean to you?

It means a lot. Evan's Energy is made up of my wife, Felicia, college buddies, my siblings and their spouses, and numerous other family members and friends. We raised more than $50,000 two years in a row, in 2018 and 2019. Very few, if any, of the people on my team are physicians or scientists who can invent a cure, but Cycle for Survival gives everybody a chance to contribute to the cause. It also inspires me to keep battling cancer.

Does being a doctor give you an advantage as a patient?

It definitely helps. I know what’s going on so I don’t get as alarmed—but my wife sometimes does.

You're an athlete, but you won't be riding at the event this year. How has your surgery affected your fitness routine?

I’d always lived a very active lifestyle. Before my diagnosis, I completed a handful of half marathons and a triathlon. The first time I was in the pool after the surgery, it was actually a really cool sensation swimming without the bottom half of my leg. I set a goal of doing a triathlon within a year of the amputation.

Once my prosthetic was fitted, my physical therapist had me do these strange exercises to stress the muscles you don’t use while walking. It felt like something out of Karate Kid. By April 2016, I was running again. I completed a triathlon that September, seven months post-op. In November 2017, I ran an 8K race in Philadelphia to raise money for cancer research. I’m itching to do another one, but the nonstop chemo is taking a toll. My workout schedule is very dependent on the adverse effects of chemo and radiation, so I haven’t been able to exercise for the last few months.

Do you find relief in working out?

Exercise is like my therapy. It’s important to me for a few reasons: It’s when I feel most in control of my body, it makes me feel good mentally, and studies show there are a ton of health benefits for cancer patients. My wife and I have also been very cognizant of how my cancer diagnosis impacts our kids, and they like that dad exercises.

What’s next for you?

My oncologist’s goal is to keep me alive long enough so they can develop immunotherapy to knock out the cancer for good. Hopefully with the help of Cycle for Survival, they will get enough research funding to do so.

The therapy I’m on seems to have treated the disease in my lungs and bones. The procedure scheduled for this month will focus on the masses in my liver. I hope we can back off the chemo afterwards so I can start exercising again. I can’t wait to do another road race or triathlon.

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