WARWICK, R.I. — In October 2014, Air Force One touched down at T.F. Green Airport, President Obama stepped into a black limousine, and the motorcade sped away, led by Providence police Officer Edmond F. Malloy Jr. on a motorcycle.
As he pulled away from the tarmac, heading toward Interstate 95, Malloy felt a sharp stab of pain in his back. “It felt like someone shot me,” he said. “I yelled out so much my partner was like, ‘Are you all right?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ ”
As it turned out, a tumor on Malloy’s liver had ruptured. He was bleeding internally.
But the former Marine kept going, gunning his Harley-Davidson Road King to 80 miles per hour as the presidential motorcade sped north to Providence. “I was just focused on getting the job done,” he said. “I don’t know how I made it.”
When the motorcade reached the Omni Providence Hotel, Malloy put the kickstand down and collapsed on the bike. “Get me to the hospital,” he told another officer.
The average survival rate for advanced liver cancer is only about a year, according to Dr. Howard Safran, Lifespan Cancer Institute’s Chief of Hematology/Oncology and Malloy’s oncologist.
But on Saturday, nearly five years after that motorcade, Malloy stood near the finish line of the Rising Above Cancer 5K Run/Walk in Warwick City Park, high-fiving the hundreds of runners who turned out wearing green-and-yellow “Malloy Strong” T-shirts.
About 825 people participated in the fourth annual event, including more than 400 members of the “Malloy Strong” team. The race is expected to raise about $75,000 for the Lifespan Cancer Institute’s Patient Support Fund, which this year was renamed in Malloy’s honor. The money will help cancer patients pay for everything from medication to baby-sitting to utility bills.
At 51, Malloy has Stage 4 metastatic liver cancer, but he is still on the job, working for the Providence Police Department while assigned to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
“He’s the reason I’m here,” Malloy said, placing his hand on Dr. Safran’s shoulder at Saturday’s race.
“Ed is strong and courageous,” Safran said. “And we have had a lot of new treatments become available. One of the most promising treatments are immunotherapy drugs that stimulate the immune system to fight cancer, and Ed has had several courses of that.”
Malloy is always the first to volunteer for clinical trials for new drugs, Safran said. For example, he was one of the first people in the world to try a drug — called 9-ING-41 — aimed at blocking growth pathways in cancer, he said. “If he waited three weeks, he could get a double dose, and Ed said, ‘Of course I will get a double dose.’ That is who Ed is.”
Malloy said he had “no clue” anything was wrong before the tumor ruptured in 2014. He spent nine days in the intensive care unit, and a doctor told his wife he wouldn’t make it. But he survived, had surgery, and returned to work in 158 days.
But then doctors found the cancer had spread to his lungs and his shoulder. Now the cancer is in his lungs, lymph nodes, and bones. But he said he’s not afraid of it and he’s not giving up.
“I just think it’s will,” Malloy said. “The will to live is stronger than you think.”
Doctors told him he didn’t do anything wrong that affected his health. “It’s just bad luck,” he said.
Malloy sets goals. “I don’t go too far out,” he added. One big goal was to see his son, Ryan, join the Providence Police Department, and that goal was achieved in 2017.
Now, his goal is to see his daughter, Meagan, graduate from college in 2020. She returned from the University of Michigan to be close to him, and is now studying nursing at Rhode Island College.
What did he think of so many people turning out to support him Saturday?
“It’s amazing,” he said, choking up. “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others,” he said, quoting “The Wizard of Oz.”
Malloy said he tries to encourage other cancer patients, such as a man who was facing his first radiation treatment. “Listen, you can do this,” he told the man. “I went through eight different bouts of radiation.”
“I would rather help someone than be helped,” Malloy said.
Dante Bellini Jr., who recently retired as executive vice president of the RDW Group, wore a “Malloy Strong” T-shirt Saturday.
“Eddie is the toughest, sweetest guy I know. There is nobody braver,” Bellini said. “There is something remarkable and wonderful in being able to help others even though you are struggling yourself. It’s a special gift.”
“Eddie is the epitome of a Providence police officer, with his strength and his resilience,” Providence Police Chief Hugh T. Clements Jr. said as he approached the finish line. “He has made an indelible mark not only from his work in law enforcement but his strength in fighting cancer.”
At the finish line, some 25 members of the Providence Police SWAT team jogged by Malloy in tight formation, chanting “Malloy Strong.”
As they passed, the backs of their “Malloy Strong” T-shirts revealed a simple message: “Never Give Up.”