Only Months Before Maryland Half Marathon, Runner Steve Berry Receives Colon Cancer Diagnosis

Steve and Mindy Berry

Mindy and Steve Berry with their trainer Ashley Kelso.

It is the day before my surgery for colon cancer, and as I reflect on the last few months, I am amazed by how things sometimes seem to fall into place.

Last fall, my wife, Mindy, and I started running to get in better shape. To help our motivation and to improve our technique, we joined an introductory running class at Fleet Feet in Annapolis. We discovered running with a group not only is a motivator; it makes it fun and the support is incredible.

We ran with our group through the winter -- including during Snowmageddon in February. We noticed we were losing weight and, in general, felt better. We ran three times a week, then four and sometimes we made it to five. The members of the group supported each other and encouraged each other. If one did not show, the others would ask him why. We stuck with it and the graduation ceremony from class was a 5K fun run in February. The Maryland Half Marathon was waiting at the finish line, and in a moment of runner's high, I signed us up.

I will admit there was no philanthropic motivation for running the race. The fundraiser for the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center was incidental. We would try to raise a little money, but our main purpose in running was to keep motivated to train. Having a goal is a great incentive. How ironic that just a few weeks after signing up, our lives -- and motivation for the run -- would be turned upside down.

On March 25, 2010, I was shockingly diagnosed with colon cancer. Surgery was scheduled for April 16. Unfortunately, I am now unable to run, or even walk, the race. But I will be there. Our friend and running coach, Ashley Kelso, will be running in my place.

Because I have been running, I am more physically fit than I have been in years. I have lost 20 pounds and have more energy. That is 20 pounds less of me the doctor has to go through to get to the cancer. The miles I have put in will aid in my recovery over the next weeks and months.

Now, our goal has changed. We want to raise a lot more money for the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. And we are. When people find out about our story, they are so generous. Each time we receive an e-mail that another donation has come in, it gives us that much more strength to face what is coming. Each word of encouragement posted is like a hug through the Internet and helps our spirits soar.

It is important that you know that I am 51 years old and there is no history of colon cancer in my family. If I had not had a colonoscopy, my cancer would not have been found. Do not wait to get screened.

Any support, financial or otherwise, is greatly appreciated. Every small act of kindness is a source of encouragement. Thank you for considering this cause in your charitable giving.

Your prayers (vibes, candles, positive thoughts and encouragement) are welcome and needed. Thank you for being a part of this journey. Remember, your financial donation is tax deductible and 100% of our registration fee and your donation goes directly to the Fund.

Editor's Note: The following update was posted on Steve Berry's race page on April 21:
AWESOME NEWS!!! We just found out it is early stage II cancer and they got it all. None in the lymph nodes! Steve does not have to go through chemo. Clear of cancer. Get your colonoscopy!