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My Beard Off 2019 Fundraising Page

Phil Mcneal

Phil McNeal

In 2015, I was diagnosed with thymoma, a rare cancer of the thymus gland. I spent almost a year in treatment at the National Institutes of Health. That treatment saved my life. Of course, six rounds of chemo, major surgery that affected my heart and lungs, and six weeks of radiation to the torso caused some significant changes to my body.

Before cancer, I regularly took CrossFit classes and hiked in the mountains with my wife. We enjoyed backpacking trips through the Sierra Nevada and the Alps. But my treatment required removal of the nerve that controls one side of my diaphragm and radiation of my lungs. As I recovered, I realized that rebuilding my physical fitness could be difficult and discouraging.

Fortunately, a friend told us about the Ulman Foundation's Cancer to 5K program. The program matched me with a group of other cancer survivors and pacing volunteers for a twice-weekly running club. We trained together for the Girls on the Run 5K in the spring of 2016. I found the community of other cancer survivors so motivating. Spending time with others who shared my experiences was wonderful, and everyone supported each other so well. Plus, the workouts helped me improve my fitness level and learn how to work with my body's new normal.

The day of the race was rainy and cold, but everyone was excited to run. We helped each other accomplish the individual goals we had set. As we finished, we regrouped so we could walk hand-in-hand across the finish line with the oldest member of our group, who completed a walk of the entire 5K course as we cheered her on.

The Ulman Foundation provides support and healing experiences to cancer patients and survivors in our area. Please consider helping them by contributing to my fundraiser and sharing this page with your family and friends. Additionally, you can ask me how you can get involved with the Ulman Foundation's programs.

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