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Victor Post
  • Not even cancer could slow Lou Iovoli’s drive to succeed

  • Inspiration. It’s what got Victor resident and Ironman athlete Lou Iovoli through what must have been his most darkest hours, and it was also the reason he was being honored as the keynote speaker at this last Saturday’s Wilmot Cancer Center’s 11th Annual Discovery Ball at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

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  • Inspiration. It’s what got Victor resident and Ironman athlete Lou Iovoli through what must have been his most darkest hours, and it was also the reason he was being honored as the keynote speaker at this last Saturday’s Wilmot Cancer Center’s 11th Annual Discovery Ball at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.
    Iovoli, at 45 and Vice President in charge of sales and marketing for Hammer Packaging in Henrietta, was being honored with the Center’s Inspiration Award for providing hope to people with cancer.
    Previous honorees included Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim, patient advocate Judy von Bucher of Brighton, former Xerox CEO David Kearns and the late Michael Fennell, a former New York Yankee and McQuaid baseball coach.
    Iovoli, who went to high school at Bishop Kearney and was an undergraduate student at RIT, eventually getting his MBA in Marketing from Syracuse University, was diagnosed with oral cancer on his 42nd birthday in 2007, just after competing in his first half-triathlon. Yet just two years after that initial diagnosis Iovoli was in Madison, Wisc., completing the Ford Ironman Competition in just under 14 hours, finishing in the top 50 percent. Iovoli shared his story of the resolution and optimism he used to get through his cancer ordeal at the Discovery Ball Saturday night.
    “Lou’s story of determination and perseverance is an inspiration to the doctors, nurses, staff and patients at the Wilmot Cancer Center and we are pleased to recognize his personal victory,” said Richard I. Fisher, M.D. and director of the Wilmot Center.
    “It was a fabulous evening,” said Iovoli of Saturday’s festivities that he himself had a big hand that evening in raising well over $150,000 to be used towards cancer research. “When I finished my acceptance speech, after the closing remarks I said that completing an Ironman is not inspirational. It’s just a race. I was chosen to receive this award to inspire people to help with this battle against cancer. So, if anybody tonight can make a donation at all please pick up those cow bells on your table and start shaking them. The Convention Center rang loud with those cowbells. It was almost deafening, yet pleasurable to hear those bells ringing.”
    Iovoli had arranged to have those cow bells, and donation cards, on each table before the evening began.
    “To me, that’s how you earn the award. Over 1,500 people a week go through the Wilmot Cancer Center. Those doctors and nurses at the center saved my life. I look at this as an opportunity to give back.”
    What kind of inspiration was there for Iovoli during his battle with cancer?
    “My family,” Iovoli quickly replied. “They were there for me. When you go through something like that there are all kinds of help. But what it really comes down to in the end is realizing that you have to do it yourself.
    Page 2 of 2 - There are chemotherapy and radiation treatments to help with the battle, but the third leg of making a successful recovery is exercise. So I never stopped exercising. True the exercising then, battling through the cancer, wasn’t what it is to today for me, but it was exercise.”
    At one point during his recovery Iovoli found himself exhausted and unable to continue a simple walk to the end of the block and back. But he used that unlikely inspirational moment to identify his lowest point and made himself realize that things were only going to get better from that point on. And they did, culminating in that very successful completion of the Ford Ironman in Madison two years after originally being diagnosed with oral cancer. He has continued to compete in Ironman events since then.
    “Use the support available to you and stay positive. It’s not fair to say to people who have, and will go through what I did, that everything will be OK. It’s just not fair. But I would say that doing the best you can every day is a gift you can give yourself. Again, use the support available to you. There is plenty out there. Take it day by day. It takes time. It’s not going to be easy.”
    So how has Iovoli done in his battle with cancer? It’s OK to ask, just don’t use the word remission.
    “Cancer patients don’t like the word remission,” Iovoli points out. “That word implies that the cancer might come back. Today I am cancer-free,” he states. “I love my life. My life hasn’t been any better than where it is at right now. Saturday night made my life a little better knowing that I could do something to contribute.”

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