Apr 16, 2015 10:00 AM

Author: Cancer Learning Center

The day after Christmas in the year 2000, Jeff Warren received devastating news: he had stage IV head and neck cancer, which gave him—at best—a 25% chance to live five years. His radiation oncologist could see Jeff struggling with the diagnosis. The physician wrote down his home phone number and gave it to Jeff, saying, “If there’s anything you need, anytime, call me. I’m here for you.” That moment made an impression on Jeff. He says, “I realized I was working with a physician who felt he and his institution had some skin in the game. It wasn’t just that I was a patient, or a number, or one of the many. To him I was an individual.”

Jeff underwent four months of treatments at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), including three surgeries, many sessions of radiation, and several doses of chemotherapy. Although the process was agonizing, Jeff describes the care he received at HCI as unparalleled.

Jeff on the 667-mile Ride from Reno

“I’ve had the opportunity as a public speaker to visit cancer-related institutions across the country, and I can say with a bit of authority that Huntsman Cancer Institute is unmatched. Treatment is done not only with professionalism, but also with caring and respect, and with the patient and their family and friends in mind.”

When his treatments were over, Jeff felt the urgency to do something empowering—and raise money for cancer research. There began the Ride From Reno, a 667-mile bike ride from Reno, Nevada, to the steps of HCI in Salt Lake City, Utah. The final day of the Ride From Reno is now known as the Huntsman 140. The fundraising event has happened every year since.

Now, 15 years since his diagnosis of head and neck cancer, Jeff remains cancer-free. He and his family are thankful to HCI for helping him beat the odds. “Huntsman Cancer Institute is a treasure on the hill,” he says. “A gift to Salt Lake City and a gift to all the world from the Huntsman family. When we need it, it’s absolutely the most incredible place to go.”

His advice for others, with or without a cancer diagnosis?

“Hug your spouse a little longer and harder, play with the children a little more enthusiastically, call your mom and dad and tell them how proud you are to be their son or daughter, or call your children and tell them how proud you are to call them yours. We put off too many important things until tomorrow, and none of us know how many tomorrows we have left.”

Cancer Learning Center

Huntsman Cancer Institute

head and neck cancer patient stories fundraising events

Cancer touches all of us.

Share Your Story