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Cruisin' for a cure to kidney cancer

By Megan Workman
Courtesy photo
To celebrate Bernard Goff's love of classic muscle cars and to help raise money for kidney cancer research, the second annual Cruisin' for a Cure will kick off at 11 a.m. May 19 at the Olde Main Plaza in St. Albans. Organizers added a 5K walk/run this year that begins at 8 a.m. Goff succumbed to the disease in December 2010.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Like many 20-somethings in the early 1970s, Bernard Goff frequently drove his yellow Corvette convertible to the Shoney's parking lot, the local hangout, on Patrick Street in Charleston.It was that local hangout where Bernard met his soon-to-be wife, Patt, in 1971.The couple hit it off, she said, and so did their love for classic cars.Married for 39 years, the Goffs visited many car shows and Bernard collected several classic muscle cars. In the last two years of his life, he owned 19 antique cars that rolled in and out of his garage as he bought and sold them.Still, the most he owned at one time was four cars.Bernard died two days before Christmas in 2010, 17 months after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He was 62.The news came as a shock to the couple because Bernard didn't have any of the symptoms of kidney cancer: blood in the urine, lump in the kidney area, or high blood pressure, to name a few. The couple had never heard of kidney cancer, Patt said."He had just not been feeling good and we thought it was a gall bladder issue. He had the classic symptoms of a heart attack," Patt said. "When they told us it was cancer, I was totally convinced they had picked up the wrong person's chart." They wanted a second opinion, Patt said, so they visited the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute in Ohio. Doctors discovered Bernard had stage-four kidney cancer.He received treatment at the Cleveland Clinic for the next 17 months, which Patt said was a true blessing."Things changed because your life becomes revolved around treatment. ... But I think that's why Bernard was able to be here for 17 months, because of the care he received from the doctors at Cleveland."After much research, Patt learned that one cause of kidney cancer is long-term exposure to petroleum products. Bernard's father owned an Exxon gas station, where he spent much of his youth helping out, she said.
Because he owned a dump trucking business, Bernard also worked with diesel fuel throughout his adult life.Now, Patt wants to further research and raise awareness for kidney cancer.Nearly 65,000 people will get kidney cancer in 2012 and about 13,570 people will die, according to the American Cancer Society. The risk of kidney cancer is higher in men and people who are 55 and older.
"If we can save one person, we've done everything we've needed to do," Patt said. "If they can say, 'Hey, maybe this is what's wrong with me,' it makes a big difference. When you lose someone that you love, your whole life changes. You get a couple options: you can crawl in a hole or suck it up and make something positive of it. My option is to suck it up."Last year, Patt organized Cruisin' for a Cure, a car show hosted in St. Albans that featured 225 classic cars. The event raised $10,000 for kidney research at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. The goal this year is to raise $25,000, she said.The second annual Cruisin' for a Cure starts at 11 a.m. May 19 at the Olde Main Plaza in St. Albans. Organizers added a 5K walk/run this year that begins at 8 a.m.For Patt, it made the most sense to host a car show to raise funds for kidney cancer research as a way to remember Bernard, she said. The logo for the event -- a black-with-white-stripes 1969 Camaro Z28 -- was Bernard's trademark car, she said."He was a real car person. ... The real driver for me is for my children and grandchildren to understand that their dad and grandfather made a big difference and to remember what he was about," Patt said.Cruisin' for a Cure is a family event that will have inflatable toys, several food vendors and other vendors offering handmade products and entertainment. In the restored historic St. Albans theater, video of classic cars from the Kanawha Valley in the 1960s and 1970s will play throughout the day.
Laura Wood, Bernard's nurse at the Cleveland Clinic, and Amanda Hollis will attend the car show for the second year to answer questions about kidney cancer.The event's sponsors -- Bert Wolfe Ford, Holzer Clinic, Frontier Communications, West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, West Virginia Paving, and Dallas Moore Trucking -- have made the annual event possible, Patt said.To learn more about Cruisin' for a Cure: The Bernard Goff Memorial Car Show or to make a donation, visit or call Patt at 304-545-5072.Reach Megan Workman at or 304-348-5113.
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