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Patient Stories

Motocross Racer Celebrates Victory Over Prostate Cancer

Dirt Biking Saves Dave’s Life

At 61 years old, Elburn native Dave Thomas is no stranger to broken bones and dislocations. He’s been dirt biking since he was a child and started motocross racing in the 1980s. Dave races professionally in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas, and has won several championships. He even has a dirt biking course in his backyard.

In February 2017, Dave was racing in Georgia and crashed his bike. He suffered a collapsed lung and broken ribs, but the crash actually helped save his life: His bloodwork showed that he had an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) score. Dave was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer.

Dave returned to Illinois to a local physician who told him there was nothing they could do for him at this advanced stage. Full of grit and perseverance, Dave wouldn’t accept this answer. He found Northwestern Medicine and a care team that wouldn’t accept defeat either.

Dave didn’t let cancer slow him down.
— Christopher M. George, MD

Second Gear

Dave received a second opinion from Northwestern Medicine Urologic Oncologist Edward M. Schaeffer, MD, PhD. Dr. Schaeffer performed minimally invasive surgery to remove the tumor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Dave had 30 radiation treatments at Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center Delnor with Northwestern Medicine Radiation Oncologist Michael A. Stutz, MD, and received hormone therapy from Northwestern Medicine Hematologist and Medical Oncologist Christopher M. George, MD. Dave continued to ride his dirt bike during treatment.

“Dave didn’t let cancer slow him down,” says Dr. George. “We have to build the treatment plan around the patient’s lifestyle, not build the patient’s lifestyle around the treatment plan.”

Today, Dave’s PSA level is normal, and there’s no trace of cancer in his system. He continues to see Dr. George every three months for regular checkups. He’s back to racing, but with an upgrade to his bike: A Northwestern Medicine decal to remind him of everything he’s been through.