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Survivor gives his spin on life after cancer

Randolph Westphal and his dog, Yukon, got cozy on a cold, snowy afternoon Wednesday outside the Antlers Best Western Hotel in Glenwood Springs. The pair was resting up for their bicycle trip over the Rockies, which will continue today.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Randolph Westphal has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

The 45-year-old native of Ostheim, Germany ” a small town near Frankfurt ” is in his 16th year of life after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma, an often deadly form of skin cancer.

Since then, Westphal has been riding his bicycle around the United States, Canada, Europe and South America, spreading a message of hope to those coping with cancer. He brought that message with him to Glenwood Springs when he arrived in town Tuesday night.



“I like to show people what you can do when you have cancer,” he said with a strong German accent.

Westphal said he’s ridden more than 73,000 miles ” the equivalent of nearly three trips around the planet ” to spread his message.



“In 1987, they removed the lymph nodes in my right arm. So by the statistics, I just had one year to live.”

But Westphal is still kicking ” and riding.

“I think it was from negative stress. So when you have positive thinking, you can survive.”

And although he’s in remission from the disease, Westphal acknowledges he’s not cured.

“You’re never cured from cancer, but in the meantime, I accept the cancer as part of my body,” he said.

Although no people travel with Westphal, he’s never alone. His dog Yukon, an Alaskan malamute sled dog, sits in a specially designed bicycle trailer on the flats and downhills and helps pull Westphal’s rig on the upward inclines.

“He is well-trained. Normally at Best Westerns they don’t accept dogs, but they made an exception for me.”

The chain of hotels is one of a handful of companies that sponsors Westphal. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the Antlers Best Western in Glenwood Springs put him up at no cost.

Westphal has visited colleges, hospitals and hundreds of cancer patients in his years of bike riding, inspiring countless people who might have been losing hope as they fought cancer.

“I say always to people, don’t sit in the corner and wait for your death. Open your eyes and lift up your head. You must do what you like to do, it’s really important,” he said.

Westphal’s short stay in Glenwood Springs was expected to end this morning when he heads off to Eagle, then to Denver.

And soon, his 16-year odyssey will end for good.

“After this trip, that’s enough,” he said. “I’m tired. I’m very tired. And I know I’ve helped thousands of people, but I’ll be done.”

For more information on Westphal’s journey, go to http://www.randolph-westphal.de on the Internet.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

gmasse@postindependent.com


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