Fred Roecker is riding his bike again after a cruel detour knocked him off his bike and into a hospital bed a few years ago.

These days, the 65-year-old Bexley resident said, he isn't taking anything for granted.

He's exercising every day and paying forward by participating in Pelotonia.

On Aug. 5, Roecker will ride the 55-mile route from New Albany to Gambier to raise money for cancer research. It will be his eighth time participating.

Riding with the Barely Bikers team, he has raised $2,134 thus far in 2017 – and likely more by the time the bike tour begins.

Roecker, a retired librarian at Ohio State University, said his cancer has been in remission for eight years. He was diagnosed with stage 4 large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2009.

The symptoms started that February with a queasy feeling, as if he had the flu.

The following day, with a doctor's recommendation, he went to the emergency room.

A day later, he was in the intensive-care unit, close to death, his organs shutting down and a doctor bringing him back to life with defibrillator.

Roecker spent 10 days in the ICU and had six rounds of chemotherapy treatments, a stem-cell transplant and a clinical-trial series with an experimental drug. He said he was treated at the James Cancer Hospital.

By October, he had returned to work, a little weak, struggling with slight memory loss but happy to rejoin the world.

He said it took him a couple of years to get over the worry the cancer would return, especially since he had a previous bout with lymphoma in 2005, which resulted in the removal of his spleen.

As an emeritus faculty member at Ohio State, Roecker still rides his bike to the university and works out almost daily -- something he did when he worked full time.

"I really feel 100 percent, to be honest," he said. "I feel fine."

Roecker has been married 30 years to Janet Helgeson. They have a son, Jackson, 25, who is a baker in New York City.

Helgeson said her husband's illness was shocking: He was a vegetarian who didn't smoke or drink and he exercised constantly.

She said it was a life-changing experience, but they are grateful Roecker has recovered.

"It's very good," she said of their lives now. "I think you change your views on life because it could be altered totally."

It might also have changed Roecker's tastes.

"We learned the value of Graeter's chocolate milkshakes," she said, referring to Roecker's favorite diet supplement during his illness.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary