Hi – My name is Ben. I’d like to share my story with you. First, here’s a picture.
I want you to have some context. That pretty girl taking the picture is Katie and she’s my girlfriend. We hiked up to Grey Rock, just outside of Ft. Collins, CO recently. What a beautiful hike! And how thankful I was for that day, spending time with my best friend and my favorite brown dog, Reina.
Here is where my story will start.
First, though, you should know where I have come from.
Two years ago, I got a cold. The cold ran its course, except for a dry non-productive cough, and it persisted. A trip to the family practice doctor ended up in a trip to the hospital for a CT scan, then an ENB procedure (fancy bronchoscopy) and finally to a lung cancer diagnosis by a doctor that would eventually become my “running buddy” (I think that’s code for friend). Looking back, I guess there were signs – being a little out of breath while walking up a hill or a little out of breath at the start of a run. I’m not a smoker though and I thought I was just out of shape – my family practice doctor would probably say, “…that’s reasonable”. So, I exercised more. I skied the Grand Traverse, a 38-mile ski tour through the mountains from Crested Butte, CO to Aspen, CO. I ran the Aspen Backcountry Marathon, a 26-mile run on a single-track trail up, and down the mountains, reaching elevations of 11,500 feet. None of this would keep the disease I didn’t even realize I had, at bay.
Now back to the present. It has been two years since diagnosis. I’m on my second targeted therapy drug, Lorlatinib, (Crizotinib was the first). This past summer I ran the Aspen Backcountry Marathon again and the New York Marathon, both as a stage-4 lung cancer patient – other people like to say survivor. I enjoy moments like never before, and that day on Grey Rock was a wonderful keeper.
I hope you check back in from time to time – there’s a lot to cover and we’re just getting started. – Ben