I played soccer in college and would often go out for long runs to stay in shape. But in 2008, my reasons for running changed completely. During my senior year, my dad was diagnosed with stage-four prostate cancer. It had spread to his spine, liver, spleen and brain.
Watching my dad’s health deteriorate was extremely difficult. To find inner peace, I would run—some days for hours at a time. It was my escape, the safe place I could go to sweat, yell, scream and cry.
My dad passed away two years later. It was so painful, and I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through that experience. I felt it was my obligation to teach others how to help their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons get essential information about prostate cancer so they could detect it early.
In September 2012, I decided to partner with the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s Athletes for a Cure program and run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon with my best friend to spread awareness for the disease. Together, we raised $5,000!
I had run marathons before, but this was the first one where my dad wouldn’t be waiting for me at the finish. He was my biggest cheerleader. Wearing my baby blue shirt that read “In Memory of My Dad” and being the top fundraiser on the team was my way of giving him a big hug at the finish line.
I plan to run a race every single year to raise awareness for prostate cancer. This year, my mom, sister, brothers and nephews will all be racing and fundraising. One day, my goal is to help set up free testing sites to make it more accessible for men to screen themselves early.
MY BEST ADVICE: DON’T WASTE A SINGLE MOMENT.
Appreciate what you have now. It’s easy to get caught up and take people and things you love for granted. Express your appreciation each day—even if it’s toward yourself and thanking your able body for running from point A to point B.