By Jeff Mattsson of Edina, Minnesota

Rob Roetman, John Dicks, Bob Greelis, and myself all successfully completed last falls LoToJa Classic which finished in Swan Valley. For each of us, it was the first time we'd finished the race, which was pretty awesome in itself. But as we stood at the starting line in Logan on that cold September 13th morning as our 7:20 am start time approached my thoughts drifted to what I had experienced exactly one year earlier on September 13th, 2002 and the subsequent events that led to being here in Logan exactly one year later.

At 7:20 am on September 13th of 2002 I was under general anesthesia in the middle of a surgical procedure to remove my cancerous right testicle. The prior afternoon the dreaded diagnosis was delivered to my wife and I as we sat in the urologists office hoping he'd tell us something different about the swelling and discomfort I was experiencing. When he said "your testicle is cancerous" we both felt like a bomb was dropped on us -- but we also knew that there was a good chance of full recovery too. We already knew about Lance Armstrong and what he'd done since his bout with testicular cancer. That gave us hope.

After three weeks of recovery from the surgery a very rigorous schedule of chemo therapy was set up and from early October through mid December. I was administered regular doses of chemo. On Christmas Eve day, my wife and I received word from the oncologist that they'd killed the cancer and that further chemo was not necessary. Great news, but at that point I was a wreck, both physically and mentally, so the good news was tempered a bit by that. I was bald, skinny, weak, and a little down.

Things improved by March. Biking season was just around the corner and I thought "geez, wouldn't that be neat to maybe try a LoToJa again this year??" My three "domestiques" and I rode the 1999 LoToJa but none of us successfully finished. When I went to your website and saw the date for the 2003 event, well, seeing it was September 13th just totally blew me away. I thought: "wouldn't it be just so totally awesome to go from an operating table, followed by months of suffering, to a LoToJa starting line and only 1 day of suffering, all in the span of exactly one year?!?!". What a great opportunity to wipe out those horrific memories of cancer/chemo and replace them with triumphant memories of a first successful LoToJa!

Well, it happened. We all finished and the triumphant memories are intact!! We'll be there this year too. Still cancer free. Watch for the blaze orange jerseys.