Alex Nesson had just moved to Easton with his wife Jen and their two-year old son Jacob. An attorney and an art teacher, the two looked forward to living in the shovel town.
At about the time of the move, however, Alex became ill.
"My wife took me to the emergency room and they just gave me a prescription," he said. "Then they came out and said it was cancer."
He was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer of lymph tissue found in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, bone marrow, and other sites, according to PubMed Health.
The 35-year-old was treated by Dana-Farber. He said the night sweats, vomiting and hair loss were a struggle - but he was lucky to end treatment cancer-free.
"I did chemotherapy for about six months," he said. "It went better than I would have expected for the chemotherapy. I was really sick before I got the treatment – I lost some hair and stuff."
Now 42, Alex said the experience gave him a new perspective on life - so much so that he decided to hit the streets - literally - three years ago to raise money for cancer research. And, he is not alone. His son, Jacob, now 10, decided to follow dad's example.
Alex will participate in the Pan Mass Challenge, a two-day bike race across 46 towns in Massachusetts, for his third year this August. In the past three years, he has raised $17,000 for Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Jacob just finished his first race in the PMC Kids Race Sunday. He raised over $1,000 and was one of the top-raising kids participating.
"My dad has been doing it and he’s done it for three years," said Jacob. "We were looking online and I just wanted to try it, I guess, and see what happened. My dad had cancer and he survived and I want to help other people survive, too."
The night before, Jacob had the opportunity to see his father honored at Fenway Park's PMC Day. Cancer survivors participating in the challenge had the opportunity to ride around Fenway's warning track before a new "PMC" logo was unveiled on the Green Monster.
Jacob attended the game with his mother and grandparents, who all had the opportunity to watch Alex on the field.
"We saw him riding down the track a little, and he came around to where we were sitting," he said.
Alex said bike-riding was never a major hobby of his before his episode with cancer, but he found it to be a great way to clear his mind.
"You get to think about things when you’re biking and I really enjoy being on the bike for that reason," he said.
But in August, the bike ride is a family affair. Jacob, Kim and other family members meet Alex at the end of his ride on Cape Cod where they spend a week. Alex said his bout with cancer allowed him to better appreciate everything he has.
"It gives you a different persective on life," he said. "It really makes you appreciate what you have. It really motivates you to get on the bike and ride."
To help Alex's cause, donate by going to pmc.org and typing in Nesson or send a check payable to PMC and send it to my address 80 Rockland Street, North Easton, MA 02356 or 4 Court Street, Suite 105, Taunton, MA 02780 with my ID 57881 written on the check. One hundred percent of the donation goes directly to cancer research.