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Conqueror runs far to fight cancer

Rick Tyler, a 41-year-old Dunedin man, was told less than a year ago that he has prostate cancer which already had spread to his spine, shoulders, skull, pelvis and thigh bones. He also was told that he had a 1-in-3 chance of living for even a year.

Rick feels better now, physically and emotionally, than anyone thought possible, as reported by Times staff writer Deanna Bellandi in a story last month. And he will be running in the New York City Marathon Nov. 6 with his wife, Diana, and three friends.

On that morning, he said in a recent fund-raising letter, "When we are lining up with the 25,000 other runners at the starting line, my thoughts will be of my fellow cancer conquerors. There are so many people who have used cancer as a turning point in their lives to learn how to really live. Cancer is telling you to change. The goal is peace _ with self, with others, with God.

"And with this goal in mind, there is truly hope. Help me help the children find that hope."

Rick remembers "how rough it was on me" when he learned he has a severe type of cancer. "I can't imagine the terror for little children and their parents," he said in a phone conversation this week. "What a thing to happen to a small child!"

And so, like many of his fellow marathoners, Rick is seeking pledges _ $1, $2, $5 or more per mile _ to raise money for research into childhood cancers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Rick is confident he can finish the 26.2-mile marathon course, so a $2-per-mile pledge, for example, would mean $52 to help finance the search for new treatments.

Checks payable to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center should be sent to Rick at P.O. Box 149, Dunedin, FL 34697 by Oct. 31. He will be leaving for New York the next day so he can deliver the checks in person and visit some of the young patients at the center.

This will be the second New York Marathon for Rick and Diana. They ran it in 1989 when they conversed privately and heard a talk by George Sheehan, the running philosopher whose writings inspired his fellow runners for years. He had already been diagnosed with prostate cancer at that time but lived until last November.

"His philosophy of life and running touched us all," Rick said. "He fought the same disease that I have, seeing it as an event rather than as a tragedy."

Rick also ran in two of the local British-American Marathons and Diana in three.

Training with the Tylers and running with them in New York will be Beth O'Malley of Safety Harbor, Sandy Gayton of Gulfport and Rick's sister-in-law, Roberta Tyler, of Jacksonville.

"In the battle against cancer," it says in the Sloan-Kettering pledge kit brochure, "there is no weapon more powerful than hope. Hope in the heart of a child who believes she can _ and will _ get better and go home to family and friends. Hope in the minds of researchers who are making breakthroughs that can save more and more children."

Rick doesn't know what the future holds for him, but he, too, hopes for the best. It will be fun to hear about his run through the Big Apple.