Despite being in treatment for his cancer, Evanoff, 51, has been training to compete in Penticton, British Columbia, on Sunday, August 27, 2006. He is a member of the Hamilton-based Blast Triathlon Club and an employee of The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company (The Dominion), based in Oakville. He aims to raise at least $10,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada's "Make Cures Happen" campaign. He has already raised over $4,000.
Evanoff has decided to go public with his illness, having told fellow athletes, co-workers and staff about his illness this past month, and take the Ironman challenge to provide living proof that donations to cancer research do make a difference.
For the past two years Evanoff has been taking a "designer drug" that specifically targets the cancer cells in his body. "I would likely not be here today -- and I certainly would not be able to do my rigorous training if not for this new cancer drug, which was only approved just over a year before I was diagnosed. It won't cure my tumors, but it does keep them from growing," he says.
It's also important to Evanoff that people know that it is possible to live with cancer and to lead a more than normal life. Three years ago and just days before he finished his first marathon in Washington D.C., Evanoff underwent a biopsy for a tumor in his abdomen. He was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST,) a rare form of cancer, and underwent surgery. Weeks later, he was back running again and he joined the Blast Triathlon Club in Hamilton to get in shape and, as he says, "get control of my body." He has been swimming, biking and running ever since.
Evanoff has competed in 14 triathlons since his diagnosis. Last summer, he won the championship title in his age group (50-54) in the HSBC Triathlon Series sponsored by Multisport Canada. He also successfully completed his first Ironman at Lake Placid, USA. The title of Ironman is earned by completing a 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike ride and a 42.2 km run in under 17 hours.
Any athlete training for a race as competitive and intense as the Ironman would undertake a grueling training regimen. Evanoff's is no different. It helps that he has a competitive nature, enjoys the hours of working out and is filled with a drive and determination to succeed at everything he does. He trains daily and is reaching his peak performance week of 20 hours of training, with eight hours of that spent biking on the weekend. He swims three hours a week at Gulliver's Lake in Flamborough, wearing a wet suit to help him swim faster.
He finds his inner strength, inspiration and motivation from seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. Like Armstrong, he believes that more needs to be done for cancer research.
"It takes a lot of money to fund research for new drugs and to employ the brightest minds to develop them," says Evanoff. "Cancer touches us all, directly and indirectly. My hope for a cure grows as more research is conducted and more discoveries are made. This is my way of giving back."
His employer is behind him in his fight to Make Cures Happen. The Dominion has made a contribution to the campaign and towards his race expenses.
The Blast Triathlon Club and Chip Time Results plan a fundraiser on August 15, 2006 at Gullivers Lake in support of his Ironman. Cyclepath, a bicycle retailer in Oakville, is also sponsoring him.
"We meet heroes everyday who are grappling on the front lines raising funds and awareness for cancer research worldwide. Martin is one of those heroes and we are sincerely grateful to him for taking on this incredible challenge. We will be cheering him on through every stroke, step and pedal he takes," says Rudy Putns, Chief Executive Officer of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.
Donations can be made on Evanoff's behalf by telephoning the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada at 1-877-668-8326 or online by visiting Evanoff's web page at http://www.active.com/donate/mchcanada/mevanoff.