Once given a terminal sentence, John Sharp is enjoying his new lease on life on the back of a bike.
After receiving a stage 4 prostate cancer diagnosis in 2003 at the age of 49, Sharp and his trusty dog Brie have spent the majority of their time exploring the open road on Sharp’s 2007 Ural motorcycle, while creating a dialogue about what Sharp described as the taboo subject of prostate cancer.
“I try to raise awareness. I’m doing the trip because I’m still able to,” Sharp said of his explorations.
On his most recent travels, Sharp passed through Mount Airy on Wednesday as part of a massive trip across the continental United States and part of Canada that to date has already logged 8,000 miles.
Sharp’s travels started on June 15 in Algoma, Wisconsin and have lead him to Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and now North Carolina.
Sharp explained that he took Skyline Drive in Pennsylvania, which later turned into the Blue Ridge Parkway, which lead him to arrive in Mount Airy. Sharp said that his cousin, who lives in Greensboro, urged him to stop off in Mount Airy and take a ride at Squad Car Tours, which he did.
After spending some time with his cousin in Greensboro, Sharp plans to go through Charlotte and then on to Florida and eventually make his way to California by October or November.
Both Sharp and Brie spend their nights camping, as opposed to staying in hotels.
“I primarily camp; I like that because you can experience the outdoors,” Sharp said.
Before moving from Colorado to Wisconsin, Sharp ran a support group for individuals who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He said that his own diagnosis experience inspired him to take on an activism-based role, having been urged by a stranger on an airplane to insist that his doctor run a more detailed test, which ultimately resulted in his diagnosis.
“My attitude towards helping other men is to be proactive about their health, not reactive,” Sharp said, adding that he was originally given three years to live.
Sharp said that he’s a strong believer in aggressive cancer treatments, having immediately started Chemotherapy upon diagnosis, something that Sharp said is fairly uncommon.
As part of his motorcycle tours, Sharp meets a wide assortment of people who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and provides them with business cards with facts about early detection and aggressive treatments. During his time at the Squad Car Tours LLC, Sharp ran into a retired man who was also diagnosed with prostate cancer and is traveling the country and had come to Mount Airy to take in the sights and attractions.
Sharp said that he’s very proud of his Ural motorcycle, which is a Russian-made motorcycle with designs dating back to World War II. By the time that Sharp stopped in Mount Airy, the motorcycle had 44,950 miles on it.
“I have many motorcycles, but it’s my favorite, it’s very versatile,” Sharp said. “That motorcycle is a warhorse.”
Aila Boyd may be reached at 336-415-2210.