As if running one marathon in the middle of active cancer treatment isn’t impressive enough, Phil Decker, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in January and is still in active treatment, is planning to do it again – this time at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 9.
Decker previously ran the Boston Marathon in April, raising approximately $13,000 for cancer patients along the way. It will be a different course, but his mission will remain the same.
“We want to continue to raise money for cancer patients. Our goal is to raise over $13,000,” said Decker. “We want to beat where we were at last time, and I think we’ll get there. We’re moving in the right direction for sure.”
In January, Decker was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at just 46 years old after going in for a routine screening colonoscopy. He didn’t have any symptoms and led a healthy lifestyle, but luckily, he qualified for a screening colonoscopy thanks to new guidelines released in May 2021 by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) that lowered the recommended age to start colon cancer screening from 50 to 45, and his cancer was found.
Upon receiving his diagnosis, Decker began treatment at the Nassif Community Cancer Center in Cedar Rapids, IA, where he received a “Jack Pack” from the I Know Jack Foundation, a community partner of the Community Cancer Center. Decker learned about Jack’s story and was motivated to use his own diagnosis as a way to give back as well.
“Jack’s family really took it upon themselves to take a really hard situation and make other cancer patients feel better,” said Decker. “That really meant a lot to me.”
While he’s on a break from chemotherapy right now due to an upcoming procedure, Decker does have more treatment ahead after the Chicago marathon. He’s grateful for the continued support he’s received from his care team every step of the way.
“I can’t say enough about the people who have taken care of me,” said Decker. “I can call Connie [Dietiker, care coordinator] anytime of the day and she’ll get things done for me. I’ve started lifting weights with Matt [Schmitz, cancer exercise specialist] recently and he’s a great guy. Cancer care is a passion for them. You can see it. They care about you.”
Decker has started a website, tell5friends.org, as a way to share his story with others and to raise awareness. He also shares updates on his progress and how followers can support his cause.
If you’d like to donate to his Chicago Marathon fundraiser, visit https://secure.qgiv.com/for/philschicagomarathon/
If you are 45 or older, talk to your primary care provider about colon cancer screening. For more information about services available to colon cancer patients at the Nassif Community Cancer Center, call (319) 558-4876 or visit communitycancercenter.org.