Cancer Survivor Paddles to Fight Prostate Cancer

Posted on July 26, 2008

Skip Ciccarelli, a 60-year-old survivor of prostate cancer, is a high school carpentry instructor at Shawsheen Technical High School in the Boston suburb of Billerica. On Father's Day he set out on a 54-day, 1,700 mile kayak trek from the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago to the Hudson River in New York City. His goal is to raise awareness for one of the most prevalent forms of cancer, second only to melanomas.

In 2002, Skip was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer and was told by his doctors that he had two months time before the cancer spread to other parts of his body. After consultation with a team of doctors in Boston, he placed his bet on surgery and won. He is now cancer-free.

Skip is the father of three children. He says in a statement, "At the time I realized, that like most men, I was clueless about prostate cancer and soon became flummoxed at how little men know about their own bodies. I realize I need to use my own abilities to help raise awareness. By drawing attention to prostate cancer, I'm hoping more men will get prostate checkups and PSA screenings, and that more research will focus on this disease. When was the last time you heard someone talk about prostate cancer?"

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 28,000 men will die from prostate cancer in 2008 while 186,000 new cases are diagnosed. With the aging of the baby-boomer generation, the number of new cases diagnosed annually is projected to reach 300,000 by 2015-an increase of more than 60 percent-with an accompanying annual death rate of approximately 45,000. Early detection and treatment can result in a five-year survival rate of more than 90 percent.

The course charted by Skip will take him through Lakes Michigan, Huron, St. Claire and Erie. It will also take him through the Detroit River and the Erie Canal before he starts his trip down the Hudson River. Covering 40 miles a day, with six days built in for bad weather delays and two days off to join his students at a technical competition in Kansas City, Missouri, Skip is planning on arriving at Manhattan's Pier 66 on August 9 - the seven year anniversary of his surgery.