In late March 2016, dealer lawyer Len Bellavia was scheduled to fly to Las Vegas for the National Automobile Dealers Association convention.
Instead, he wound up in an emergency room. Soon thereafter, he received a diagnosis of imminent death.
"It's a year later and some days I just sit and stare at the wall and think, 'How did this happen? How am I here?'" said Bellavia, a founding partner of Bellavia Blatt & Crossett in Mineola, N.Y. "It is just a horrible, horrible part of my memory."
Doctors told Bellavia he had terminal prostate cancer. He spent weeks in deep depression, trying to sell assets and preparing for death. But as it turned out, his cancer was easily treated and not a terminal form of cancer.
Today, Bellavia, 59, is cancer-free with a normal life expectancy. His experience has prompted him to join the fight against prostate cancer and encourage men over age 50, who are most affected by it, to get screened.
Bellavia has organized a classic-car show for June 24 in upstate New York. All proceeds will go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. He hopes dealers will donate $20 to it for every new car they sell that day.
He also helped establish a new social media fundraising campaign called Many vs. Cancer, which launched May 18. He will spearhead the subgroups Dealers vs. Cancer and Lawyers vs. Cancer. It, too, seeks to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
"It's expected, with proper research, that the medical profession will find a cure for prostate cancer in the next five years. I want to be a part of that because it affected me so directly," Bellavia said. "I have the reach — at least I hope I do — to get automotive people involved."