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Cancer Survivor Prepares for Run for the Ribbons One Step at a Time

| Date Posted: 3/11/2014

By Kay Grismer
for The Foundation of FirstHealth

Todd Phillips
When Whispering Pines resident and running enthusiast Todd Phillips was diagnosed with lung cancer, he promised himself that he would finish treatment, kick cancer to the curb, get back to running, and raise money and awareness for the Moore Regional Hospital Foundation Cancer CARE Fund. He will continue that pledge by participating in the Run for the Ribbons 5K and Family Fun 1K fundraiser held in conjunction with the April 5 running of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase at Carolina Horse Park. His wife, Tara, ran in the race in 2010 in honor of her grandfather.

PINEHURST – After Whispering Pines marathon runner Todd Phillips learned that he had inoperable lung cancer, and about his extremely aggressive treatment plan from his oncologist at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, he had only one question.

“When can I start running?”

Todd, a non-smoker, was just 44 years old when he was diagnosed in May 2012.

Running became Todd’s passion in 2006, when his wife, Tara, celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary with a membership to the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness.

“I know God gave him running so that he would be prepared,” Tara says. “It was like he was getting ready for the run of his life – the fight of his life.”

In fact, Todd looked at cancer and months of radiation and chemotherapy as “just another race.”

“One step at a time,” he says. “One foot in front of the other. All I had to do was show up and leave the rest in God’s hands.”

When he finished six grueling months of treatment, Todd thought it would be like the last of day of school and the first day of summer vacation. But it wasn’t.

“Even though you were sick, at least you knew you were doing something to actively kill the cancer cells,” he says. “Then it just stopped. And I thought, ‘What do I do now?’”

Then he remembered a promise he had made to himself.

He would finish treatment, kick cancer to the curb, get back to running, and complete a marathon to raise money and awareness for the Moore Regional Hospital Foundation Cancer CARE Fund.

Since 2000, the Cancer CARE Fund has provided almost $1 million in assistance with transportation, medications and other cancer-related items to local cancer patients and their families. Services have also included patient advocacy through CARE-Net.

Todd kept that promise in February by running the Myrtle Beach Marathon and raising almost $3,000 for the Cancer CARE Fund.

On Saturday, April 5, beginning at 9 a.m., he will join hundreds of other Cancer CARE Fund supporters for the Run for the Ribbons 5K and Family Fun 1K. The event will be held in conjunction with the 63rd Stoneybrook Steeplechase at Carolina Horse Park at Five Points in Raeford.

He will be joined by his wife, who first ran in the race in 2010 in honor of her grandfather.

“I remember everybody was talking,” Tara says. “Some had cancer; some were in remission. But, now, to have my husband have cancer, it just makes you realize how important these things are for our community.

“It’s important to support the Cancer CARE Fund, because it does so many wonderful things to help patients and their families who feel the anxiety of the financial burden of cancer. ‘Can I afford this?’ ‘What is the cost to live?’ You can’t put a price on that. Unless you’re affected by it, you don’t realize how important something like the Cancer CARE Fund is.”

Although Todd finished his treatments more than a year ago, he says, “Running definitely gives me a sense that in some crazy way I’m still actively fighting against cancer – for myself and for a lot of other people.”

Run for the Ribbons 5K and Family Fun 1K pre-registration fees through April 1: 5K $25 and 1K $15. Add $5 after April 1. (Fee includes T-shirt and General Admission ticket and parking pass to the Stoneybrook Steeplechase races that start at 1:30 p.m.) To register or for more information, go to www.runfortheribbons5k.com or www.active.com. To learn more about the Cancer CARE Fund, visit www.firsthealth.org. To make a donation, call The Foundation of FirstHealth at (910) 695-7500.

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