In September 2010, my wife and I were blessed with the birth of our baby girl. We were very happy to finally have our little girl after having three boys to start off with. Unfortunately one month after the birth of our daughter, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with a 2 inch brain tumor and had to have brain surgery to remove it at Shands Hospital, located in Gainesville, Florida. Shortly after the surgery, I was diagnosed with a rare type of brain tumor called Oligodendroglioma, which changed my life.
I started cancer treatment for the grade 3 malignant tumor for six weeks with radiation and combined it with taking chemo every day. After the first six weeks and up until March 2015, I continued to take chemo five days almost every month, have MRIs to check for updates, lab work every month and check-ups with my oncologist and neurosurgeon. I was taken off chemo in March 2015 since there were no signs of growth and because it is not safe to be on chemotherapy for too long. I continue to have follow ups and MRIs to check for any changes.
To cope with the changes in life, I turned focus on getting healthier and found running to be a great physical and mental medication. Even while taking chemo for one week almost every month, I started walking, then built myself up to running 5ks without walking, and then on to running marathons and ultramarathons. I jokingly tell people that if my cancer wants to get me, it has to catch me first! Another thing I find myself saying is that when I had brain surgery, my neuro must have removed part of my logic out of my brain since that might be why I love running ridiculous lengths of runs. For example, October 2015 was a five weekend month so my weekend long runs alone included distances of 50 miles (Oct. 3rd), 20 miles (Oct. 10th), 34 miles (Oct. 18th), 25 miles (Oct. 24th) and 30 miles (Oct 31st).
Ever since I made the change to start running, I have felt healthier than I ever have and I hope to share with others that just because you get a life threatening illness or any other negative issues going on in your life, it does not mean you should let it control your life. In fact, it has been a wakeup call for me to get healthy and is now driving me to make and reach my goals in life.
I find running to be a great escape from any kind of stress, no matter if its health related or anything else. Running or walking (no matter how fast or how far you can go) is a blessing that can help improve your life in many ways. It is because of this and my diagnosis of brain cancer that I started the Brain Tumor Run for Research 5K in Pensacola, Florida, which started in 2013 and has raised a gross total around $60,000 after three successful events. Not only are we raising funds for brain tumor research but equally as important, we are raising awareness for brain cancer.
You can follow Greg's journey on his website - Running Away From Cancer.