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In August 2008 Senator John Jay Lee of Clark County Senate District 1 (North Las Vegas) was diagnosed with cancer in his spine, neck, and head. Over the following months of radiation treatment, Lee, 54, lost his hair and about 70 pounds. His appearance changed so significantly that he was almost refused admittance to the Legislature at the start of the 2009 Legislative Session.
In the summer of 2009, Lee came across the July/August issue of Nevada Magazine, specifically a backpacking story entitled “King of the Crests.” “That story inspired me to fight,” he says. “I told myself, ‘If I can live long enough to hike the Tahoe Rim Trail, I’ll be happy.’” Lee set to his goal and started working his way back to good health. “It was slow at first,” he adds. “I’d lift weights and mountain bike—sometimes I’d throw up after only a couple miles, but I kept at it.”
On Labor Day weekend 2009, after months of fighting his cancer into remission and regaining his strength, Lee and a couple of friends started on the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail. In nine days they hiked 110 miles and mountain biked the remaining 55. Lee credits his goal of completing the feat with helping him beat cancer. “Our motto for the trip was, ‘There is nothing so good for the inside of a man than the outside of a mountain,’” he says.
To read what inspired Senator Lee, read “King of the Crests” at nevadamagazine.com.