Cancer can’t slow him down

By on July 2, 2009

Sugar Grove man making the most of time left
by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove—Bob Carroll doesn’t know how much time he has left, but he is making the most of it.

Carroll was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February 2004. A month later, the doctors found he had metastatic melanoma, the worst kind of skin cancer.

“April was a busy month for me,” he joked.

Carroll and his wife lived in Peoria at the time. They moved to Sugar Grove in 2005 to be closer to their two daughters and five grandchildren.

He became active in the Elburn Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts with his three grandsons, and joined the Sugar Grove Lions Club. He began volunteering for the Sugar Grove Corn Boil, and he is the one who creates the clues for the Medallion Hunt.

Last year, the doctors found the cancer had spread to one of his lungs. They removed the lower lobe of his right lung. Then earlier this year, they found the disease had spread to both lungs.

He is currently involved in a clinical trial at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. In this study, neither he nor his doctors know if he is receiving the current drug, a new, more powerful drug, or a placebo.

“It’s one of my last chances,” he said.

Carroll joined the American Cancer Society and began participating in the organization’s local Relay for Life event. He got the Elburn Boy Scouts involved, and this year they made pancakes on Saturday morning for the participants.

On Sunday, Carroll took advantage of a gift his family had given him for his birthday last year. He went to the Chicagoland Speedway near Joliet and took a few laps around the 1.5-mile track with a 600-horsepower, open-wheel Indy car.

He wasn’t able to make the drive last year.

“They had just removed part of my lung and the doctor wouldn’t let me drive,” he said.

But this year Carroll was raring to go.

“My goal was 145 miles per hour,” he said. “But if close counts, I was timed at 143.69 mph and averaged 135 mph for my laps.”

He said he was surprised by how much he could feel the wind. After he was done driving, he took six laps with a professional race car driver at the wheel. The vehicle was a two-seater, with the passenger seat directly behind the driver.

“It was like a bicycle built for two, only a lot wilder,” he said.

They maxed out at 170 mph.

He said he doesn’t let his cancer bother him. He explained that he doesn’t have any shortness of breath and does not have any pain.

“I’ve got too much to do,” he said.

After his drive, there is one less thing on his “bucket list.” He said he has a fairly short list, because he doesn’t know how long he has. He would like to go up in a hot air balloon, fly in a glider and jump out of an airplane—although he said he will probably have to wait until his wife goes out of town to attempt that one.

Carroll goes into the hospital for a CT scan on July 20 to see if the clinical trial has been successful. But when the Solheim Cup comes to Sugar Grove in August, Carroll said he plans to be there volunteering.

“I’m a warrior, not a worrier,” he said.

Photo: Sugar Grove resident and cancer survivor Bob Carroll (above) shows off his racing suit at the Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday. Racing an Indy Car is an item Carroll can now cross off his “bucket list.” Carroll reached a speed of 143.69 mph (below) at the track, close enough to his goal of 145 mph.
Courtesy Photo