The countdown is ON for the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon! We are so proud to have an incredible group of runners representing Team Colon Cancer Challenge this year. Together, our athletes have raised over $65,000 and counting! We cannot wait to cheer them on as they tackle 26.2 miles on November 6.
In this first “Meet Our Team” installment, we are honored to introduce you to Courtney Rheuban from Venice, CA. Here is her story.
My first marathon was seven years ago, with no experience whatsoever. I was going through a hard time and decided to sign up for one. Of course, my entire family thought I wasn’t going to make it. Shortly after I started training, I started dating Rick, who would later become my husband. He supported me through all my races. By the time I stopped running, I had done three marathons and a dozen half marathons. In 2013 we decided to do a half marathon together. I trained him for about four months and in November 2013 we did the Las Vegas Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon. We crossed the finish line and Rick turned to me and said, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” That turned out to not be true.
In February 2014, three months later, he started not feeling well. Dizzy, shortness of breath, unable to walk up and down the stairs in our apartment. He finally got in to see the doctor in March and it wasn’t good. After a series of tests, we found out he had a massive cancerous tumor in his colon, and at the end of March he had a colon resection surgery and spent eight days in the hospital. Unfortunately there were cancer cells in his lymph nodes also, so he underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy. He did all 12 rounds – something his doctor didn’t think would actually happen due to how intensive the treatment was. He finished in November 2014, and we decided he should scan in December instead of waiting six months like normal. Our thoughts were, we’ve already met his deductible so might as well do it now. Not only did he not respond to the chemotherapy, his cancer had spread to his liver and peritoneal lining and he had developed new tumors.
2015 was spent trying to find a treatment plan. We knew there was no cure, but we were doing everything we could to gain a little more time. Two more chemotherapy treatments, two clinical trials and three different hospital visits for experimental surgeries that he didn’t qualify for. All to no avail. He continued to get sicker, and his tumors continued to multiply and grow in spite of everything we did. Christmas day was the beginning of the end. He spiked a fever and we spent the night in the hospital. Between Christmas and New Years we were in the hospital twice, and the final time was January 4th 2016. After four days in the hospital, he was released to go home and into home hospice. I took a leave of absence from work at that point. Five weeks later, on February 8th, he passed away at home, peacefully in bed, with me and our dogs.
One month later, on the one month anniversary of his passing, I received the email saying I had been accepted into the NYC Marathon. This was a bucket item I had been trying for since I started running, and each year Rick and I were disappointed when I didn’t get in. He was from New York originally and we thought it would have been so cool for me to run in his home town. I knew this was his way of looking out for me.
Rick was a man who refused to be defined by his cancer. As far as he was concerned, he was a man who happened to have cancer, and it didn’t get in the way of our lives. We lived life to the fullest, traveling as much as possible, going to concerts, doing everything fun we could think of. Most people didn’t even know he had cancer until he passed away.
Rick never got a colonoscopy before he got sick, and I always wonder if he would still be alive today if he had started getting them at 50 like he was supposed to (he was 54 when he was diagnosed, died at 56). This is why I wanted to run for the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation. Everyone should get a colonoscopy. If this is a cancer that is somewhat avoidable everyone should have that opportunity. I don’t want anyone else to go through what we went through.
I’m running for Rick! Please take a moment and donate today!!
Courtney has set an ambitious goal of raising $10,000. Help Courtney reach her goal by clicking HERE. And stay tuned for more moving stories as we count down to Marathon Sunday! After all, we are all in this Challenge together.