Brain cancer survivor Aaron Gaberman of Weston takes up the ‘challenge’

p1-ctchall, gaberman bike

Brain cancer survivor Aaron Gaberman is taking on the CT Challenge Bike Ride this Saturday, July 27. He is also speaking at the opening ceremonies of the event.

Brain cancer survivor and Westonite Aaron Gaberman, 18, will be the featured speaker and a rider at this year’s ninth annual CT Challenge Bike Ride on Saturday, July 27, at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport. More than 1,000 cyclists are expected to ride in this annual event to support cancer survivors and their families.

This year, the CT Challenge Bike Ride has been expanded to a two-day event, kicking off on Friday, July 26, with an 81-mile ride from Lakeville to  Westport. The ride features 10-mile, 25-mile, 75-mile, and 100-mile routes.

Cyclists pledge to raise money to benefit the CT Challenge, a non-profit organization that provides programming and educational outreach for cancer survivors. To date, the organization has raised more than $9 million.

The CT Challenge helps to support:

• The Center for Survivorship in Southport, a leading research and wellness center that offers survivors and their families and caregivers research based programs in exercise, nutrition and psychosocial support that empower them to live healthier, happier and longer lives;

• Community outreach services, including exercise and support groups offered in local communities;

• The CT Challenge Survivorship Summit, one of the largest survivorship conferences in the U.S.;

• A speaker series offering educational, cultural and awareness-raising events for cancer survivors;

• An innovative website that educates, motivates, and guides cancer survivors to qualified resources;

• Pilot research projects in cancer survivorship;

• A multi-year grant supporting the development of survivorship curriculum for nursing students;

• Mobile mammography services in underserved areas;

• A CT Challenge Survivorship Network of hospitals and cancer centers in the New England region.

Last year, the ride, CT Challenge’s primary fund-raising vehicle, raised more than $1 million and benefited more than 54,000 cancer survivors. This year, the CT Challenge hopes to raise $2 million; so far, nearly $860,000 has been raised.

Aaron’s challenge

As for 18-year-old Aaron Gaberman, this will be his first time getting on a bike since his cancer diagnosis eight years ago.

It was May 25, 2005, just days following his 10th birthday, when young Aaron was diagnosed with two rare and aggressive malignant non-germinomatous brain tumors.

As the third participant in a new research clinical trial created by his neuro-oncologist, Dr. Jeffrey C. Allen at NYU Langone Medical Center, Aaron underwent a lengthy series of operations, spinal taps, MRIs, blood transfusions, months of chemotherapy and weeks of proton beam radiation.

Through it all, Aaron maintained a “Never Give Up” attitude, indefatigable courage and strength, a quiet determination to succeed, and unflagging faith as he continued to play baseball, golf, the violin, and to be an outstanding student, a good friend and an inspiring role model for others.

Subsequently, the tumors were eradicated and as part of the treatment protocol, he was placed on life-sustaining hormone replacement therapies.

However, three years later, a routine MRI discovered a benign growth in the orbital region of his skull, leading to a lengthy surgical procedure.

The double bout of treatments, although successful, left Aaron’s body worn and ravaged. His spirit to persevere, however did not become extinguished as he strived to move forward to rebuild his body.

Center for Survivorship

The CT Challenge Center for Survivorship had just opened and Aaron saw it as an opportunity to help his body regain the strength it needed in order to continue to participate in the sports he loved.

Under the guidance of certified cancer survivor trainer Dan Root, Aaron works several days a week on strengthening his body through the use of weight training, conditioning, and other cardiovascular equipment. Additionally, Aaron attends weekly nutrition classes and enjoys indoor cycling workouts.

After nine months, Aaron has built up his endurance, become stronger, faster and has lost inches and pounds. The center has been a wellspring of healing of the mind, body and soul, not only for Aaron, but for his entire family.

Aaron’s team of physicians in New York and in Boston say they are happy with the results they are seeing from his aftercare treatment routine at the CT Challenge Center for Survivorship. The combination of personal training and exercise and nutrition education have allowed his life-sustaining hormone therapies to greatly enhance his overall musculoskeletal growth after it was significantly delayed due to tumor damage to his pituitary gland.

Moving forward

Last month, Aaron graduated from Weston High School, where he played on the freshman baseball team and varsity golf team. He will be attending Marist College as a sports communication major, thanks in part to a scholarship granted to him and 27 other college-bound cancer survivors.

He continues to be an advocate for pediatric brain cancer research for several foundations and is the Young Adult Ambassador for the CT Challenge Center for Survivorship.

Most recently, Aaron was awarded the Youth Community Spirit Award by The Bank of Fairfield and Chips Restaurant.

Aaron will be riding as a survivor and in celebration and support of other cancer survivors. He said he will be riding in honor of those who lost their battle to cancer, including his grandmother and best friend Bobby Murcer, and for those who have and continue to support him and others (families, friends, caregivers, doctors, nurses, clergy, etc.) throughout their cancer journeys.

Aaron has formed a team in the CT Challenge Bike Ride called “Aaron’s Fast Foxes” to raise money to make dreams come true for other cancer survivors. Those wishing to make a (tax deductible) donation to Aaron’s team may visit bike.ctchallenge.org/give/ and enter Aaron Gaberman’s name, or mail a check (note “Aaron’s Fast Foxes” in the memo section) to the CT Challenge Center for Survivorship, 250 Pequot Avenue, Southport, CT 06890.

For more information on the programs funded and their impact on cancer survivors, visit the CT Challenge website at ctchallenge.org.

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