Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 8, 2013

Ailing Vasa skier presses on

TRAVERSE CITY — Dr. John Bruder and close friend Jerry Glenn like to recite a humorous refrain before every cross country ski race they enter.

"We always say, 'Start slow, and then back off from there,'" Glenn said. "Of course, the gun goes off and John's gone. There's no stopping him."

There's a different tone on the eve of this year's big race, the annual Vasa set for Saturday. Bruder, 66, will take part in his first Vasa event in three years. He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in December, 2010.

"When my lung cancer was diagnosed, I was quite certain that I would be dead by now," Bruder said. "But I have been pleasantly surprised. Because of excellent health care by a variety of physicians, and the support I've received from everyone, I'm doing better than I ever thought possible."

Bruder, an orthopedic surgeon, continues to work and continues to ski, thanks to a portable oxygen tank. He continues to amaze his friends, too.

Vasa's nod to Bruder is a special "Ski With John" 12K event Saturday at Timber Ridge Resort. A special "Team JB" wave is scheduled to start around 1 p.m.

"This is not going to be a competitive race," Bruder said. "This is going to be a fun time with friends."

Friends, and any other skiers who would like to join them. Glenn and Dr. Bill Smith came up with the idea.

"I thought this would be a fun thing to do, a way that we could support him," Smith said. "John, in many respects, is a pretty private person. I didn't want to do something that in any way he wouldn't want to do. We've gotten his OK with this and I think he's been quite amazed by all the support."

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