You’ll Never Believe What This 71-Year-Old Is Doing
Legendary American basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
These are words that Paul, a 3-time cancer thriver, lives by. Paul displays this quote in his email signature, but he also puts it into practice in his everyday life with intention and enthusiasm. “What you put out there is what you get back ― life is a mirror,” he says. “It’s what I try to do. I fail a lot, and I also succeed a lot.”
It's a Friday morning and Paul has left his circuit training class ― one of 3 he attends each week ― a few minutes early to talk with me about a personal fundraising project he launched earlier this year. Over the course of 2022, Paul has been walking ― a lot. His goal is to walk 1,500 miles to help raise funds for the Cancer Support Community. The nonprofit organization has become personally meaningful to him as a cancer patient and a cancer thriver. “It’s beyond the beauty and satisfaction of giving back and raising funds. It’s also the beauty of raising awareness.”
Paul wants people to know about CSC’s free resources and services for people impacted by cancer. He himself turned to them while navigating his own cancer journey. It began with a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2007. The initial diagnosis sent Paul and his wife on a quest for information about clinical data, treatment options, and other cancer patients’ experiences.
“One feels so alone with that kind of diagnosis,” says Paul. “I had a wonderful support system, but I also knew that no one in that support system would or could experience what I was experiencing. Friends said, ‘I’m sure you will make it through this; you are so strong.’ I remember thinking, ‘I’m glad you are confident, but I’m not.’”
In his search for information and resources, Paul learned about MyLifeLine, our free digital support community for cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers. It was exactly what he had been looking for and more: personal experiences as well as emotional and psychological support.
"My cancer journey was much smoother due to the support of CSC, and they will have my support for the rest of my life!"
A decade after beating the prostate cancer, Paul learned it had returned. His doctors also found a cancerous lesion on his right kidney. He promptly underwent partial nephrectomy surgery, which removed 5% of his kidney and eliminated all of the cancer. In 2021, he successfully completed radiation treatment for the prostate cancer. Today, he says, “I’m in a good place. My life is very blessed. People will say, ‘Well, gosh, you have had cancer 3 times.’ We have all had tough experiences; it’s not just rhetoric [to say] that you come out stronger at the other end.”
Paul shared valuable insights about his cancer journey as a participant in our Cancer Experience Registry, a confidential online survey that helps us create better outcomes for patients and caregivers. When he first learned about the survey, he recalls thinking, “This is perfect. The information database from this Registry will be so helpful to people dealing with a cancer diagnosis.”
At 71, Paul is full of energy, and the cancer thriver has no intention of slowing down. His voice is joyful, positive, upbeat. Paul has been walking, on average, 6.7 miles a day. He has walked all but a handful of days this year to meet his fundraising goal, and he hopes to far exceed that. Many of his pledgers have incentivized miles over 1,500, such as doubling their contribution up to a total of 2,000 miles.
“People say I walk fast, but I don’t walk so fast that I don’t enjoy the journey,” he says.
Paul has easy access to hiking trails in the picturesque foothills near his home in Broomfield, Colorado ― a small but bustling town just southeast of Boulder ― and he also enjoys 3/4-mile treks to and from his community’s lodge, where he often logs a few additional miles on an indoor treadmill there.
So, what about those oppressively warm days in the dog days of summer, or when temperatures plummet to the single digits on bitter-cold winter days? “It does cross that fine line between dedication and stupidity,” Paul says with a laugh, but adds that he takes the necessary precautions to stay safe.
“People say I walk fast, but I don’t walk so fast that I don’t enjoy the journey.”
Paul’s enthusiasm for establishing walking goals started during the pandemic, when businesses ― including his local lodge and fitness center ― temporarily shuttered. “By the end of 2020, I realized I’d walked several hundred miles.” This is cool, he remembers thinking. “So, for 2021, I set the goal of walking 1,300 miles. The magic of that number is that it’s the distance outside my doorstep to my childhood home of Ponchatoula, Louisiana.”
Paul reached his goal by September, but he kept walking. By December he had clocked 1,900 miles. “I get some deep thoughts as I’m walking,” he says, “and I thought, ‘Maybe I could make something of this. I could do a fundraiser and just put it out there.’”
Which is precisely what Paul did. It was so well-received by family, friends, and acquaintances that he decided to launch an official, more far-reaching fundraiser this year. Although Paul is happy if people donate to any charity of their choice in his honor, he would love for people to join him in supporting CSC. If anyone should ask him, ‘Why CSC?’ Paul says his response would be this: “What a wonderful organization and let me tell you more. How much time do you got?”