The annual Seattle bike ride benefits local cancer research
Darren Rozendaal and his wife, Ceci, met through mutual friends in early 2000, and bonded over a love of soccer. Personality-wise, Rozendaal said they meshed perfectly. They’re both driven and hard working, but aren’t likely to sweat the small stuff. When Ceci invited Darren out to her birthday celebration on St. Patrick’s Day, they were basically inseparable from then on.
Roughly two years later, just nine months before they were engaged to marry, Rozendaal, an Issaquah resident, was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 29 years old. His diagnosis was a slow development, he said, that started in May of 2002 when he went to the doctor for unusual night sweats. That December, a biopsy confirmed he had cancer, and the next week he transferred all of his records to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
“I had looked at a lot of online, diagnose yourself type things and had seen that it could be cancer, but I thought it was probably less than 25 percent that (cancer) was the outcome,” he said. “That day was a total shock.”
The pair decided to postpone their wedding date from the spring of 2003 to November, thinking Rozendaal would be done with treatment by then. He underwent eight months of chemotherapy and endured a few stints in the hospital fighting infections. And then in September 2003, he got another wave of bad news. The treatment hadn’t worked. He would need a stem cell transplant.
“When we found it hadn’t worked, we had to decide if we were going to start the next step (in treatment) or keep the wedding that was planned in November,” Rozendaal said. “We decided to keep it. The doctor said he couldn’t tell us if waiting another few months is going to make any difference at all.”
So, Rozendaal and Ceci were married at the stunning A-frame Fauntleroy Church in Seattle surrounded by 200 of their friends and family. The day after they got back from their honeymoon in Hawaii, Rozendaal checked in for his transplant.
It’s been more than 10 years now, and Rozendaal said he hasn’t had any serious scares, and he’s forever grateful to the staff at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for the care he received. From August 11 through the 13, he’ll be among the countless Eastside participants at the fifth annual Obliteride bike ride in Seattle that’s raised more than $9.2 million for cancer research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The Rozendaals have participated since its inception either in-person or virtually.
“One thing (I’d like to impart) is that no matter what involvement someone has with the event, that it’s important and there’s people out there that really appreciate it,” he said.
“There were definitely times where it was a roller coaster,” he added. “Overall, we were in a fortunate situation, just from the amount of support we had from friends and family in the area and the level of care. … I benefited so much from the care I got and it was done so well. Everyone we came in contact with pretty much handled things as best as they could, which was pretty unique.”
Participants will set out on a 25-mile, 50-mile or 100-mile trek for Obliteride and the event kicks off Friday, Aug. 11 at Gas Works Park.
Donations can be made to participants, teams, or to Obliteride in general. One hundred percent of the donations go toward supporting Fred Hutch.