Home > Uncategorized > Cyclist Riding To Raise Awareness Of A Rare Lung Cancer

Cyclist Riding To Raise Awareness Of A Rare Lung Cancer

By PATRICK CLOONAN,  Daily News Staff Writer  pcloonan@dailynewsemail.com

It began with a new tradition for McKees Cafe.

It may end in new awareness for a rare lung cancer.

After breakfast Wednesday, Frank Cavaluzzi joined others who have taken a marker to the walls of the eatery in the Palisades to mark their visit to the Great Allegheny Passage.

“It’s very exciting that we’re having all this traffic go through,” said Joyce McGregor of the McKeesport Trail Commission.

Photo by Ben Filio for The Daily News

Cavaluzzi, a 42-year-old cyclist from the Milford area in the Poconos, then set off on a trip to Washington,

standing up on a bicycle that won’t let him coast.

“My body is adapted to it,” said Cavaluzzi, a project leader and trainer when he isn’t on the road.

“I ride standing six months of the year,” Cavaluzzi said. “The only time I sit (on a bicycle) is when the roads are icy.”

It’s an effort to call attention to one lung ailment, the rare cancer mesothelioma, by a man who survived another more common ailment.

“I started riding standing up to open my diaphragm up,” said Cavaluzzi, who was stricken six years ago with allergic asthma that sidelined him for a year and a half. “I started doing it for health. I use this to draw attention for special causes.”

He hopes to cycle 50 miles a day and reach the nation’s capital Tuesday, using a single-speed, fixed-gear bicycle that has the seat sawed off and the seat holder filled with steel wool and foam insulation.

“I can’t coast,” Cavaluzzi said. “When it moves, I move. So it’s a little bit like running.”

His personal best is 72 miles a day. He’s been able to stay on the cycle for more than three hours, but he usually will stop for two minutes every half-hour.

The weather was ideal for cycling Wednesday.

“With my asthma I do better in this weather,” Cavaluzzi said. “Heat and humidity make it harder for me.”

Backing Cavaluzzi is a survivor of mesothelioma who remembers Pittsburgh from its steelmaking days.

“I attended Duquesne University (from) 1964-67,” said Larry Davis of Pompano Beach, Fla. “The amount of asbestos (and) toxins in the air in those days gave Pittsburgh one of the highest rates of lung disease in the country.”

Davis said University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has become a leader in research to find a cure for mesothelioma.

“Larry Davis is the inspiration for this ride,” Cavaluzzi said. “He’s helping to sponsor and support it by being an activist.”

In a roundabout way, Cavaluzzi met Davis.

“I’ve been cycling since I was 7,” Cavaluzzi said. “I started long-distance stuff at about 12. I started touring at about 16.”

He started cycling anew to help recover from his asthma.

“I started getting back to touring,” Cavaluzzi said. “I did Ireland and then Iceland and various places in the United States.”

In 2009 he cycled around Lake Champlain in New York and Vermont, “standing up, fully loaded,” for the cause of Stand Up To Cancer.

There he met Courtney Davis, then a local TV news photographer, now in a private videography business in Raleigh, N.C. Davis introduced Cavaluzzi to her father Larry.

“In the weeks and months that followed, Frank and I continued to keep up with one another,” Larry Davis wrote on the actionagainstasbestos.com website that also will chronicle Cavaluzzi’s trek.

Larry Davis came to Pittsburgh after growing up in New Haven, Conn. He played Little League baseball with future Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman.

“My dad taught him how to throw strikes,” Davis said. “He actually struck out 15 batters in a six-inning game.”

“That was way, way back, probably 50 years ago,” said Cashman, who will turn 64 next month. “He was my next door neighbor growing up. I haven’t seen Larry in maybe 15 years. He was a salesman of different types of products and he would come through Pittsburgh.”

Cashman is aware of Davis’ efforts that include an annual South Florida Miles for Meso run scheduled for February.

“I feel pretty good for him now that he is doing well,” the judge said. “Larry was always an upbeat individual.”

Cavaluzzi also is promoting the run-and-walk events happening in various states, wearing milesformeso.org on his shirt.

*Special Thanks to Pat Cloonan, Ben Filio & the Daily News for this article & photograph.*

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 1, 2010 at 12:42 AM

    Today in Washington DC I ran the last few miles for meso while Frank Cavaluzzi pedaled the final miles of his 318 mile ride. I can only say, Frank you are amazing.
    He is helping us all Believe in a cure
    larry Davis

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