Ed Peirick, Survivor and IronMan
With his quiet, humble demeanor, few would guess the challenges Ed Peirick has faced. In 2003, his family grieved the loss of Ed's brother-in-law to prostate cancer, and then was shaken to the core by Ed's own cancer diagnosis just eight weeks later.
Peirick approached his treatment at the UW Carbone Cancer Center with the same tenacity that had served him in running and triathlon races, the latter he had picked up in recent years.
Not long after Ed's recovery, the Peiricks' house burned to the ground. Literally picking up the yet pieces again, they rebuilt.
With life seemingly more settled, Ed began to prepare for IronMan Wisconsin: a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycling, and 26.2-mile running triathlon.
One of his training partners nominated him for a contest from a Madison sports photography company, Focal Flame Photography, which selected him as the overall winner.
"Ed's story was one of unyielding determination," said co-owner Robyn Perrin. "Despite so many challenges, he kept persevering."
But his plans for the race were again placed on hold in 2010 when he was injured during an early-season triathlon, requiring months of physical therapy.
Focused as ever, Peirick is dedicating his 2011 season to both IronMan training and to raising funds for the UW Carbone Cancer Center.
Slideshow: Ed Peirick in Training
(Photos 1 and 5 courtesy of Clint Thayer/Focal Flame; Photos 6-15 by John Maniaci, UW Health; Remaining photos from Mr. Peirick's personal collection)
Ed shares his thoughts on how cancer affected his life, what he's learned and why he's competing in the Wisconsin IronMan competition.
How has cancer affected you very personally over the years?
My wife tragically and quickly lost her brother to prostate cancer in 2003, leaving his grieving wife and three children. Just two months after he died, my wife and I were shocked and terrified to find out I also had prostate cancer. On my side of our family, two of my sister's husbands succumbed to cancer much too early in their lives after long, courageous battles. My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer after he retired. Several of his brothers also had this disease.
What have you learned about yourself along the cancer journey?
Three things immediately come to mind:
1) Even though I have always been physically active and try to live a healthy lifestyle, cancer made me quickly realize one's health can never be taken for granted.
2) Life is about family, friends and their relationships. You don't get through this journey without leaning on them for support.
3) Although I looked to others for inspiration, I was amazed how many people told me I was their inspiration because I fought back with determination and a positive attitude.
What might people be surprised to learn about you?
I grew up with my seven brothers and sisters on a small dairy farm near Watertown where I learned very early in life the importance of hard work, sacrifice, problem solving, teamwork and achieving goals. These lessons were cornerstones in my professional career as a CPA/Financial Executive and my approach to triathlons today.
What motivated you to compete in the 2011 Ironman Wisconsin?
Motivation to complete my first Ironman comes from my coach, Cindi Bannink, my Madison Multisport teammates, my son, Ben, who successfully finished IronMan Wisconsin in 2007 and from my own inner drive to experience what other finishers describe as a life changing, incredible journey. As a parent, I want my son to have an even better life than me so in that sense, Ben is my primary motivation to raise money for the Center. My hope extends to all men too.
You pride yourself in being a 60-year-old cancer survivor who is competing in an IronMan triathlon, while also focusing on raising money for cancer research. What do you truly hope to accomplish?
We have an incredible prostate cancer research center here that has talented doctors and staff who need funding to find answers. Much of the Center's work is grant funded so my hope is this money can help the application process and increase its chances of securing more funding. I was fortunate to receive great care from Dr. Jarrard and many medical professionals. Raising money is my way of giving back and making a difference in the fight against prostate cancer as well as bringing more awareness about this disease. From a race standpoint, I expect to overcome any adversity and finish with a smile because I have the unconditional support of my family, friends, teammates and coach.
Do you have any words of advice to motivate other cancer survivors in achieving their dreams?
Every survivor should be thankful to their support group and recognize we all experience adversity at some time whether it be cancer or some other tragedy. Remember that cancer may have broken your body and heart, but never use this disease as a reason to become bitter and give up. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to build yourself back up so you can be all that you were intended to be. Set goals, follow a plan and then give it your best effort to achieve them. You will not only bring more joy into your life but also the lives of the people around you.
In 10 years from now, where do you hope the UW Carbone Cancer Center will be in researching prostate cancer and in treating patients?
I see the Center finding key answers to why prostate cancer occurs and how it can be more easily treated, identified and most importantly, prevented. Why shouldn't the Center strive to be the premier, leading edge, prostate cancer research center in the world? It took the Green Bay Packers 14 years to become Super Bowl Champions so I would hope the UWCCC could achieve similar greatness in 10!