Cancer survivor bikes and walks to raise money for research

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 | 6:38 p.m. CDT; updated 8:35 a.m. CDT, Thursday, May 13, 2010

COLUMBIA — In spite of her stage two pancreatic cancer and stage one breast cancer, 41-year-old Freda Swigert is going to bike and walk 389 miles to raise money for cancer research at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

She has also undergone two knee surgeries, and her doctors tell her she needs another one.

How you can help

If you want to contribute to Freda Swigert's cause, donations can be made out to:
Ellis Fischel — "Swigert Ride"
c/o Laura Gajde
One Hospital Drive
Columbia, MO 65212

"My philosophy is that I can mask my pain with medication, but I cannot cure it," Swigert said. "Maybe (the donations) give someone a shot to cure it. Or to live pain-free."

Swigert, who lives in Lincoln, plans to leave Marshall Junction on Tuesday and trek toward Nashville, Tenn. She said she expects to be finished in 10 to 14 days.

Cancer is a familiar ailment to Swigert's family. Two aunts and her father died of cancer. A third aunt was diagnosed with bone and liver cancer May 6.

Swigert, who swallows nine pills each day for her pancreatic cancer, said she deals with a lot of physical pain. But she pushes on.

"It's not like I'm trying to run from my problems," she said. "I want to go out and do what I can before my time is up."

Another aunt Connie Randazzo will be driving ahead of Swigert, giving her a ride back to Lincoln after Swigert arrives in Nashville.

"She has her own medical problems, but she keeps on going," Randazzo said. "I'm just proud to help in any way I can."

Swigert wanted to raise money for Ellis Fischel because it helped her through a six-month battle with breast cancer.

"It's the smiles on their faces," she said. "They pull a person through tough times."

Matt Splett, spokesman for Ellis Fischel, said Swigert's donations will help patients from all over the state.

"We're thrilled she selected Ellis Fischel as a way to give back to cancer patients," Splett said.

Swigert said she wants to raise money for a similar run later this summer. She hopes to bike and walk year-round so, one day, she can set up a foundation.

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