Surviving cancer: Raifie Bass |

Surviving cancer: Raifie Bass

Cancer survivor Raifie Bass. (Mark Fox/Aspen TImes Weekly)

“It’s a club you never want to join,” said Raifie Bass. “But once you do, it comes with a big responsibility. To carry a message of hope. Of survivorship.”

Bass was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in January 2005. After a number of missed signals during chemotherapy treatment, Bass came down with chemotherapy poisoning. He was flown to specialists in Los Angeles and overcame severe lung damage after more than two months in the hospital.”I feel fortunate to be here,” he said.When he reconnected with Riggs Klika and heard about what Klika was doing at the Cancer Survivor Center, Bass said, “It’s an amazing thing.””So much of the fight is mental,” Bass said. A longtime Aspen resident and disciplined cyclist before diagnosis, Bass said that cancer was like a “betrayal” on the part of his body. Coming to the center, he said, was like “trying to get my body back.”

“Trainers know when to push and when not to push,” Bass said. And work at the center is all about “tempering your expectations” and doing what is possible.He started working with Klika in spring 2005, and just a year after walking out of a two-month hospital stay, he has increased lung capacity, he’s back to work and he’s exercising (in fact his arm is in a sling after a recent fall from his bike).”Pain is an accepted part of athletics,” Bass said, which helped him through the difficult cancer treatment process, but Bass credits the outpouring of support from the Aspen community for his recovery.

Today he has three priorities: “Friends, faith and family.”Bass’ wife was planning to pedal in his stead on the “I’m not dead yet” team in Aspen’s Sept. 9 Ride for the Cure.”I gotta believe there’s hope we will find a cure,” he said. Charles Agar

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