Stage four cancer and no cure. This is reality for ultrarunner Kenny Capps. Choosing not to let his swiss cheese bones keep him from living passionately with whatever time he has left on this earth, this active father, husband, and everyday human being, took steps of epic proportions to stand up to Myeloma.
Kenny’s cancer is literally eating holes through his bones. His skull, hip, and many other places are basically being eaten by his myeloma, leaving holes- hence the swiss cheese reference. There is absolutely nothing he can do about it. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself, he wanted to do something to feed his soul and that would help others others facing the same prognosis.
What did Kenny do? He ran, walked, and hiked over 1100 miles across the state of North Carolina. I started following Kenny on Facebook because my best friend turned me on to his story.
Since being diagnosed in 2015, Kenny has made it his purpose to be an ambassador for his disease, raising awareness and making a difference. Kenny’s crazy idea of running/hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail as a fundraiser for his foundation, Throwing Bones (which helps support other myeloma patients with medical associated expenses), was his way of giving back. Starting in the Outer Banks and ending at Clingman’s Dome in Western North Carolina, the 54 day trek took him a year to train for, as well as making sure his body was healthy enough to cross the finish line. He began April 1, 2018 and ended May 24, 2018.
I made a donation and my friend Jen and I met up with Kenny on Day 52 out of 54- May 22, 2018. In the 15 miles we spent together conversing and making our way from Mt. Pisgah Inn towards Graveyard Fields, we immediately connected on the one thing that changed both of our lives – cancer.
There is something about being in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday responsibilities, that is both soothing and challenging. The cloud-filled air reminded we can’t always see things clearly with our eyes, yet believing in what we are passionate about will help us step through. That day there was a lot of gratitude. Gratitude for life, for walking, for the forest, the waterfalls, and for having support. We had never met Kenny, but we wanted to honor his commitment and dedication to supporting and changing the lives of others. Something I believe in deeply. Cancer is personal to me. This disease comes in all forms and does not discriminate.
Kenny and I both agreed that attitude is 90%, the other 10% of diagnosis, prognosis, and “what if’s”- it’s just a figure. Staring mortality in the face and choosing to make the most of whatever adventure is left, is an inspiration to stand up to cancer and not let it define you.
Contemplating my next speech for a National Cancer Convention every step on the trail that day, a complete stranger- now turned friend- reminded me, we have a responsibility to help uplift others, providing encouragement and hope.
His trek was not easy. At one point, he had to be rescued from the high, fast flowing river, yet he persevered and kept on going. Kenny was also on chemo during the trek.
Each step we took that day was a reminder of the opportunity to keep moving forward- no matter what.
We are always more capable than we realize.