Runner faces marathon just days after finishing radiation therapy

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There’s no shortage of inspiration at the Chicago Marathon. This weekend’s event will bring out runners of all abilities – from the amateur to the elite. Among them – amputees, wheelchair racers and cancer survivors including one who hopes to cross the finish line just days after completing a challenging course of radiation therapy.

Dave Hicks, cancer survivor: “Celebration day. Graduation day as they call it here …”

He’s got the routine down to a science. This is Dave Hicks’ final radiation treatment. For eight weeks the 63-year-old has come to University of Chicago Medicine for the daily doses – after the prostate cancer he was diagnosed with in 2013 returned.

Dave Hicks: “The new test showed me with just a trace.”

Stanley Liauw, University of Chicago Medicine, radiation oncologist: “It is in the part of the body of the pelvis, and you can see an outline in green here that shows the prostate bed. It’s the area that’s at risk where the prostate used to be.”

The hope is the radiation will destroy the new cancer cells that surfaced two years after Dave underwent surgery to remove his prostate.

Dave Hicks: “Celebrating made 38 treatments in a row, and just glad to have this phase done. Move on to the next one. I needed to have a personal goal. I needed to have something that took my mind off the daily treatments.”

So he focused on his fitness with a greater goal in mind – the Chicago Marathon.

Dave Hicks: “I’ve always been active and been a runner.”

Dr Liauw: “He’s actually done two sprint triathlons already over the course of treatment. I never had a patient do two big races, but this was part of his routine.”

But with radiation comes fatigue.

Dr Liauw: “We actually tell people if you’re starting out at 100 percent energy level you can expect to be somewhere around 70 percent at the end.”

Dave Hicks: “I could blame ever ache and pain I ever had on my treatment, but I’ve been very fortunate and just had minor side effects. The marathon is hugely inspiring in that way. Just when you think that you’re stepping up and being inspiring to others you see someone who has far more challenges to overcome to do the marathon. Part of my life purpose is to make a difference, and this is an opportunity to generate funds for cancer support as well as research.”

Dave will run for the American Cancer Society. His goal is to raise $20,000 – and he’s just about there. You can learn more at  Team Hicks for Cancer web page.