Tim Rickett is trapped in a battle between time and fate. Nearly five years ago, the 42-year-old CSU graduate was diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer. Doctors gave him 16 weeks to live.
But after the diagnosis, weeks turned into months, and months turned into years. Tim Rickett fought back.
“Pancreatic cancer is a small portion of all cancers, but it’s 100 percent of me,” Rickett said.
Historically, only 18 percent of pancreatic cancer patients have lived one year past diagnosis, and just 4 percent live five years.
So Rickett decided that he needed to make a greater impact on cancer awareness with the time he had left. He just needed help.
In February of this year, Marc Lubick – the Rams’ wide receivers coach – was diagnosed with a rare form of soft tissue cancer known as Rhabdomyosarcoma.
Not long afterward, Rickett and Lubick began to fight cancer together, unwilling to succumb to the deadly disease.
“Finding out Marc had cancer was surreal,” Marc’s sister Michelle Lubick Boyle said. “We knew something was wrong, but we never knew it was cancer.” Boyle knew she had to do something to support her ailing brother. Feeling inspired after reading Lance Armstrong’s best-selling book, “Not About a Bike,” Boyle became proactive in the fight against cancer.
“Our story is about a sister wanting to show support for her brother,” Boyle said. “Marc is my hero and a real role model.”
With Rickett and her brother’s help, Boyle set out to create a local financial and emotional support system for cancer patients. Ramstrong – a CSU fund-raiser for Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Challenge – was born. She hopes Ramstrong will provide better awareness, earlier detection and improved research and treatment for those affected by cancer.
Rickett has since used Ramstrong to spread the word about the realities of living with cancer.
“The student population at CSU needs to rally around cancer funding and research,” Rickett said. “So when it’s their generation’s turn to get cancer, we have eradicated it.”
While most people affected by the deadly disease stand up to raise awareness about cancer, in August, Rickett took a seat – 34,400, to be exact.
The former university strength coach and personal trainer spent 13 1/2 hours sitting in every seat at Hughes Stadium to raise money for the Ramstrong foundation.
“I was nearing the end but definitely running out of gas,” Rickett said.
It was then that Head Coach Sonny Lubick and the Rams ended practice early to cheer Rickett on. After singing the CSU fight song and presenting him with an autographed helmet, the players helped Rickett complete his goal.
“Along with the cheerleaders, they finished the last 3,500 (seats),” he said.
With Rickett’s help, the Lubicks’ cancer support and research foundation has taken off.
“Ramstrong is exceeding anything we could have ever imagined,” Boyle said. “It has fired Marc up and continues to help Fort Collins in raising cancer awareness.”
Ramstrong focuses on a group of cancer survivors and friends who have been touched by the life-threatening disease.
“I thank God every day for the support Ramstrong has given me,” Rickett said.
Boyle is just thankful that Rickett is a part of her life.
“Tim is an inspiration, he’s a one-of-a-kind individual,” Boyle said. “He gives cancer patients another reason to fight and another reason to live.”
Few diseases have a lower survival rate than pancreatic cancer. According to Rickett, one third of Americans will be diagnosed with some type of cancer during their lives. It is the No. 1 killer among people under the age of 70.
Ramstrong T-shirts will be sold on campus today in the Lory Student Center, across from the University Bookstore. Proceeds will benefit the Ramstrong Foundation and the Livestrong Challenge.
For cancer patients like Rickett and Lubick, time is a possession. Like life, they cherish it.
“Having the funds, doctors, chemists and technology to battle this disease is so important. That is why we want to raise cancer awareness,” Rickett said. “We need all the help we can get.”
Sports features writer Mathew Planalp can be reached at email@example.com.