Bucket list: Vietnam vet with cancer to ride motorcycle across U.S.

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on March 30, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 7:21 AM

PLANO - A 58-year-old cancer patient from Plano is about to take the ride of his life.

Rick Kackley will leave Allen Saturday on a 21-day solo journey across the United States, down the California coast and back to North Texas.

The Vietnam veteran said the 4,500-mile ride is on his bucket list.

"Not many people can say they’ve been through cancer three times and an inoperable brain tumor," he said.

Kackley's health problems began 15 years ago when his doctors found a brain tumor. Three years ago, lung cancer claimed half of his left lung. In 2010, he underwent treatment for throat cancer. And last year, cancer struck again. This time, it was in both lungs.

"So I feel blessed that God gives me another day every morning when I get up," he said.

Kackley has driven his Harley through most of the country's states, but he has never been on the West Coast.

"It's been a bucket list all my life to drive along the coast of California down Highway 1 and see California that way” he said.

Even though he's still fighting lung cancer, he wants to make the trip while he's between treatments.

"I want to be able to prove that I can do this, number one, to myself," he said.

Elizabeth Kackley has been supportive, knowing how important the ride is to her husband, but that doesn't mean she's not worried. 

"Rick is not well and he has more bad days than he has good days," she said. "But, right now, he's running on pure adrenaline."

The former Air Force veteran will leave Allen Saturday morning with a contingent of friends and supporters. Along the way, he hopes to draw attention to the plight of lung cancer patients and raise money for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation and the National Lung Cancer Partnership.

"So many of my friends are dying every day from lung cancer, and there are 330 people a day dying from lung cancer," Kackley said. "That's too many,."

Kackley is also a musician who has played keyboards with the likes of Three Dog Night and B.J. Thomas. He said riding a motorcycle cross country while having cancer is a special opportunity.

"You know, you've got to live every day like it's your last,” he said. “And I want to be able to do this before something happens to me."

His wife said the ride gives him hope.

"I want him to go as far as he can,” she said. “But I told him if he gets sick, I want him to turn around and come back."

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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