Four-time Cancer Survivor-turned World-Cup Athlete, Inspiration to Many

By KBJR News 1

February 25, 2013 Updated Feb 25, 2013 at 10:31 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) - "I usually tell people: in order to see the rainbow, we've got to look through the rain," said world–class Nordic Skier and Madrid native, Augusto Perez, as he geared up on a favored cross-country ski trail, in Superior last Friday.

For Perez, that rain has come in sheets since 2000, when he was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma. He beat it, but the cancer returned not once, but twice—and along with it, the need to remove his left leg to save his life.

But that didn't stop "Goose" from adapting, as he went on to become a key player on the 2006 U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Curling team. Soon after, a passion for adaptive Nordic skiing, or sit–skiing, blossomed.

But, a routine check–up in October of 2012 uncovered another tumor, and after six–weeks of intense radiation, "I became a 4–time cancer survivor," said Perez.

"Goose" forced himself on the Nordic trails of the 2013 World Cup, in Cable, just 6 days after his last radiation treatment, placing 10th in his final biathlon. On Saturday he set his sights on the 23–kilometer Kortelopet—part of the 40th Annual American Birkebeiner, in Hayward.

Perez says he owes much of his success to his unique attitude toward his battles with cancer.

"It's nothing more than a bump in the road, basically. There's no reason for me to stay home and do nothing, or be on pain killers and become a couch potato," said Perez, in between practice laps.

But he wasn't alone in this, at times, literal uphill battle. Two guides, including World Cup Chief of Timing Eve Stein, were alongside him the entire way. The goal:

"...get him to the finish line. Be a cheerleader—if he's hurting, we're going to say 'take a break,' [or] 'keep going. And [we'll make sure] his chair doesn't get broken. We're bringing duct tape just in case," said Stein.

But Stein admits her biggest concern was being able to keep up with this seemingly unstoppable athlete.

On Saturday, Perez finished the Korte 5th in his age group--an impressive feat just three months after his 40th birthday.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness