In the 30 plus years I’ve been running, I’ve done hundreds of races. But not one of them was nearly as special as today’s “Sending Cancer on the Run”. Technically, this wasn’t a race; it was a non-competitive run/walk of about 2.5 miles on the Green Monster, a paved trail that traverses the perimeter of Ohio Northern University.
But like many races, the pre-race crowd was laughing, cheering, singing, stretching, and generally have a grand time.
On Feb. 2, 2011, David was diagnosed with stage 4, well-differentiated squamous cell carcinoma (throat cancer). David had already begun training for the Flying Pig Marathon, which is May 1, in Cincinnati. In his first month of training, he’d put in 125 miles. The Flying Pig will be his fifth marathon since he ran his first in May 2009.
Today’s event was a preview to the Flying Pig, which is scheduled for Sunday, May 1. The Dellifields have encouraged family and friends to join them in Cincinnati, to run or walk one of the various distance races, or to just cheer David on as he crosses the finish line.
In early March, David began radiation and chemo, which will continue for approximately six weeks.He currently receives radiation five days per week and chemo once per week. Despite the fact that he’ll finish his treatments on May 2 — just two days after the Flying Pig — he still intends to run the marathon.
David and his family — wife, Jami; children, Nora and Ian; parents, Dennis and Marilee Dellifield; and in-laws, Gary and Penny Cavinee — had invited family and friends to join them on today’s run/walk through ONU. If today’s turnout is any indication, David, who is Director of McIntosh Center & Dining Services at ONU, has a huge wealth of support.
Sunny skies, temps in the upper 70s, and lot of wind (enough to keep everyone comfortable) greeted the more than 300 pre-registered participants. But the crowd seemed to swell in the 30 minutes prior to the 2 p.m. start, with a DJ playing music….college students dancing….tiny children in bright yellow shirts…and a few canines.
Everyone quieted down just long enough for David to make an “unrehearsed speech” — perhaps one of the few times this gregarious, generous man has been short on words. Not wishing to leave out anyone, he simply thanked everyone for their continuous prayers of support — the one thing he can count one to get him through each day. Wife Jami offered a short prayer, and gave the go-ahead to get started. A sea of yellow, gold and red shirts headed out for the trek around campus.
In many ways, it was like any other race…the initial jostling for space, the groans and laughter that are typical. Today’s heat meant that the water tables were popular. In fact, the final water station had plenty of water but no cups. That didn’t stop one guy from kneeling underneath the spigot and squirting the water into his mouth. You do what you have to.
In fact, that’s pretty much what this run was all about….doing what you have to. For David Dellifield, it isn’t a matter of “if” his treatment is successful. It’s simply a matter of when.
One of David’s favorite sayings has become a mantra among those who know him…”Suck it tumor.” Lest you think him callous, he’s just as often heard to make it clear that “There is a reason we say God is good, ALL the time.”