Six-Time Cancer Survivor and Triathlete Wins First-Ever Growing Bolder Award

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Triathlete Tony Handler was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given two years to live. That was 25 years ago. Since then, he's beaten cancer six times and has been named the winner of the first-ever Growing Bolder Award presented by GrowingBolder.com

Six-time cancer survivor Tony Handler has been named the winner of the first-ever Growing Bolder Award presented by GrowingBolder.com. Handler finished first in the 65-69 age group in the Olympic Division of the Masters Triathlon Championships, held in Orlando, Florida. A video of Handler competing and receiving the award can be viewed at http://www.GrowingBolder.com.

"This award is a celebration of attitude, and is our way of honoring men and women who overcome obstacles and inspire others," says Growing Bolder President Marc Middleton. "Tony is an incredible guy who proves that age and even disease are no match for a positive attitude. Instead of letting life pass him by, he's committed to celebrating every moment. That's the Growing Bolder spirit."

And celebrating is right! Handler is looking ahead to his 70th birthday, which is remarkable when you consider that when he was 45 years old, doctors called him in with news he never expected to hear.

"They told me, 'It's good news and bad news,'" Handler tells Growing Bolder. "'The bad news is, it's malignant cancer. The good news is, we've seen people with this cancer live for two years.' I thought -- that's the good news?"

In fact, it was only the beginning of a series of battles Handler would face, starting with pancreatic cancer. Over the next two decades, he'd suffer from a malfunctioning heart valve, other genetic coronary problems and six types of cancer, requiring 17 surgeries. Even today, he receives monthly chemotherapy injections to treat the tumors that still live in his tumor, and every six months, doctors check him to make sure the cancer hasn't spread. He says he'll likely be on chemotherapy for the rest of his life.

How does he handle the daily reminders of his broken body? By fighting back. Now 69 years old, Handler has competed in 220 triathlons, including two Ironman events, and for his 70th birthday in 2009, he has plans for a special commemoration. "The half-Ironman is a total of 70.3 miles, so I thought maybe I should try to do it in honor of my 70th birthday," says Handler. It's particularly appropriate, because in many ways, the Ironman saved Tony's life.

"I was in the hospital after my first surgery, and I saw the Ironman on TV and said to myself 'I'm going to do that,'" Handler tells Growing Bolder. "And I did - twice! The doctors are amazed, and tell me exercise has saved my life. Even if it's psychological, it helps me; it helps that my family and friends don't see somebody lying in bed moaning."

Twenty-five years after doctors gave him a life expectancy of two years, they now say Tony is a contradiction like they've never seen before. When it comes to the diseases that have ravaged his body, he's in much worse condition than most people his age. But physically, thanks to his triathlon training, he's in better shape than 99.9% of his peers.

"It's all about attitude -- training has always helped me get up and out of bed faster after surgeries or treatments for cancer," Handler says. "I don't feel like I'm almost 70, I feel 50. And as long as my body holds up, I'll do triathlon."

Married for 49 years to his childhood sweetheart Narda (who has only missed three of the 220 triathlons), Handler is proud that winning the Growing Bolder Award will help spread his message. "Cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence," says Handler. "I'm an example of that. And if my story helps others say 'I can do that,' then it's all worthwhile."

About The Growing Bolder Media Group
The Growing Bolder Media Group specializes in creating active-lifestyle content for the 45+ market. The company, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, produces the weekly Growing Bolder TV Show, the weekly Growing Bolder Radio Show, and the Online community, http://www.growingbolder.com

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