I have always been athletic and grew up playing soccer and baseball. After high school I joined the military and my job was firefighter.
After I got out, I continued my career as a fireman and love it still to this day. Helping those in need is what I enjoy the most. I had stayed active playing softball, soccer and working out, but never really was doing it for the right reasons.It felt more like I had to and I didn’t enjoy it anymore.
In 2009 I developed a cold, had a lump in my throat and like most people I put it off thinking I was just sick.
In March of 2010, that lump hadn’t gone away so I went spoke to my doctor. This is when my world changed.
After 2 months, 3 surgeries on my neck I was finally given the diagnosis of Nodular Schelrosing Hodkins Lymphoma. The news hit me hard!!
I live far from my family; however, I have some amazing friends who helped me out which is hard to be the asking for help now when I am always there to help those who need it. I told myself that Cancer would not beat me and I was not going down without a fight.
I had to have a bone marrow test, a port placed into my heart for the chemo. My treatment consisted of 3 months of Chemo and a month of Radiation. I gained over 60 pounds, lost my hair and didn’t know who I was in my own skin.
I continued to work in the fire dept during my cancer treatments knowing that is all I had at the time to keep me going.
Once my treatment was completed, I began to work out to lose the weight and get my strength back. One day on the treadmill I felt a strange feeling in my back which would also make me loose feeling in my legs.
So back to the doctor I went. I was sent for an MRI and the result was a tumor in my spinal cord. Behold, Cancer #2!!
This one was completely separate from the first and luckily, I only need major back surgery to remove tumor.
During the year and a half of treatments, testing and doctor visits I racked up 8 surgeries, a piece of bone missing out of my back. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to work as fireman anymore and be able to help those who rely on us when they need it.
A few years ago, I decided I needed to find something to motivate me and push me. I began cycling and fell in love with.
I started off with a few mountain bike races and actually podiumed in those first couple races. That only fueled the fire even more. Since then, I have done some road racing, cyclocross racing and triathlons to include a 70.3.
I have learned to dig deep now when I don’t want to train, when my mind and body is tired as I keep telling myself that “We are not Promised Tomorrow” which is tattooed on my arm.
I don’t take life for granted any more. I treat every day as if it’s the last, take trips to see friends and family.
I found the Dig Deep Instagram page and that has helped me push myself further from Hugo’s’ inspirational post’s to all the amazing stories of others who are digging deep.
Have A Dig Deep Story To Share? All you have to do is think of a particular time in your life when you had to dig deep (it doesn't necessarily have to be about racing or training, it can be about anything). Make your story as long as you want and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org (subject : Your Instagram name if you have one). Don't forget to include a picture :) . I look forward to featuring your story! Cheers, Hugo