FTGF Race Ambassadors
If anyone ever wonders, why we do what we do, it's simply because of these people.
2019 – IN HONOR OF NICK BLAZEK
During the summer of 2018, while visiting the town my wife, Sanekia, grew up in, our lives would change forever in a few short hours.
In the weeks leading up to that weekend, things hadn’t been right. I had been apathetic, sleepy. Motor skills would be a bit sloppy. I was having headaches and high blood pressure for the first time in my life. At 38 years old and my birthday about a week away, how bad could it be? The medication the clinic gave me seemed to get rid of the headaches. So, I was on the track back to normal. Eh, not so much.
While preparing to go to bed one night, things got weird for me. I couldn’t really walk for a short time, and just sat on the bed. I could hear everyone but couldn’t respond. My wife Sanekia said ‘put on your shoes or I’m calling 911’. I of course… did not put on my shoes and said, “I’m fine.” This will be where I learn to not say that anymore.
After paramedics came, administered an IV, left and then came back, the realization set in I was anything but “fine”. The decision was made that there was something wrong with me beyond what the local hospital could handle. So, with a storm en route, the destination was decided – Chattanooga’s Erlanger Hospital. I got the fancy ride on the helicopter. My wife had to drive. She got the better deal.
My wife meeting me at the hospital will be some of my last memories of the weekend. We learned in those critical minutes that I had a mass in my brain and needed brain surgery. Whoever thought THAT was my issue? So, while she told the family I was fine just a short time ago, the story now needed revising.
On Monday, I had a tennis ball size tumor removed. A Grade IV GBM, or Glioblastoma. Cancer. Are you serious? They indeed were. Suddenly it wasn’t just my zodiac sign. It was part of who I was. So now, my battle has begun. Now it was time to face it.
My approach? Positivity. Humor. I make fun of it. Why? Because what life will it be if I’m sad and complain? If anyone thinks I am going somewhere, they are sorely mistaken. Because I’m not. And this cancer will learn that in time, as well.
It’s been almost seven months since I had the bulk of this monster removed. Since then, we have been through radiation, chemo, more chemo and now the Optune device. All of this happened while we were waiting for the inspiration that will push us past this disease, our daughter, Adeline Noelle. She arrived on 12/15, and we aren’t looking back. From the foundations to the new friends I’ve made that have, or are battling this same disease–no one fights alone. She might not understand it now, but Adeline will have one heck of a story for me to tell when she gets older. – Nicholas Blazek
2018 – IN HONOR OF RENEE HEAGLE
For Renee Heagle, at only 32, a brain tumor was the furthest thing from her mind when she started experiencing headaches, mood changes, and minor difficulties with speech. Each minor symptom could easily be explained away a dozen different way. However, in the early morning of January 12th, Renee experienced several unexpected and terrifying seizures. As her husband Mat and 12 year old son Caden, tried desperately to help her, they will forever carry the memories of those agonizing minutes of helplessness before the paramedics arrived. That morning Renee’s life changed forever.
Renee led a full and busy life. As well as being a wife and mother, Renee worked at Weddington Dentistry as a dental hygienist. On her off time she enjoyed working out, hanging out at the lake with her friends and cherished time with her family most of all. Her and her husband were looking forward to expanding their family and they had just recently adopted their sweet puppy, Boomer. No one could have imagined the difficult journey that laid ahead.
At the hospital Renee was told that she had a fist size tumor on her frontal left lobe. She was told that surgery needed to be performed immediately and that there was a good chance the tumor was malignant. In the two weeks that followed, friends and family poured in from all over the country. To say Renee is loved fiercely would be an understatement. And while this news may have been earth shattering to most of us, Renee has handled everything with grace, faith, strength and humor. She makes everyone around her laugh and has done as much comforting as she has been comforted. Her bravery has shown us all what we already knew, Renee is definitely the toughest girl we know.
Renee had surgery on February 2nd and the surgeons were very optimistic with how well the surgery went. Although she was told to expect paralysis in her right leg, she was up walking only hours after surgery. We were all praying continuously for a miracle and were broken hearted when pathology confirmed that it was, indeed, brain cancer. On February 14th, Renee was diagnosed with Anaplastic Astrocytoma Grade 3. She will soon undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Renee’s main goal is to complete treatment, so she is able to return to the life she loved. Even in the midst of the shock Renee remains steadfast in her faith and is humbled by all the support she has received. Renee’s main concern continues to be her son, husband, family and friends. She is an inspiration to all of us to “fight the good fight”.
Written by Christine Cornell
2017 – IN HONOR OF ANGELA LANE
Imagine being a woman and at the height of health. Regular exercise through running and with a trainer – check! Eat right – check! Brain cancer…(insert sound of screeching breaks!) That’s what happened to Angela Lane. Angela lives in the Denver area and works in Huntersville with her business as a CPA. Early in September 2015, she started noticing issues seeing the numbers with which she was working. Numbers would “disappear” off the end. Then the migraines started. At the insistence of friends and family, she finally went to the doctor. Angela Lane, a picture of health, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme. And if GBM wasn’t enough, in August 2016, Angela was diagnosed to be in the early stages of breast cancer. Yeah…
And she still smiles. She might cry sometimes but she is a fighter. She is optimistic. The breast cancer is gone. There is a plan for what’s next with Duke. She goes to work most days. She has fun with friends. She sometimes reluctantly lets her daughter help her find things in her closet. She is a mom, a friend, a neighbor. Most importantly, through all of this, she is fighting the good fight!
2016 – IN HONOR/MEMORY OF SCOTT TREON
On July 29, 2015, Scott Treon, an active part of the Huntersville Community through his church and his position with the Huntersville Parks & Rec department, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme. For some time, Scott had experienced headaches, confusion and difficulty in speech. A tumor was found in his left frontal lobe and surgery was performed, removing the tumor. With time and treatments, Scott returned to work, exercise and some normal routine with his wife, Lenae, and their three very active daughters. In January of 2016, a second tumor was found and Scott was admitted into a brand new clinical trial at Duke University, hoping to find a cure for himself but unselfishly knowing what laid ahead might not be a cure for him but for others. Scott continued to push forward and work hard to overcome the cancer. On May 22, the day after the 2016 race, Scott was again admitted to Duke for a second brain surgery to remove that tumor.
Unfortunately for those who loved him dearly, Scott’s body succumbed to his battle with GBM on September 5, 2016. He did not lose, though. In his own words, “Cancer did not beat me. I have reached the finish line. Heaven is the finish line. Heaven is the prize.” 2 Timothy 4:7 was Scott’s drive, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
2015 – IN HONOR/MEMORY OF MICHAEL GARCIA
Linda and Michel Garcia, along with their 2 children, arrived in Huntersville in October of 2011 from Miami, FL. They established themselves in our community and, of course, in our hearts. In February of 2012, shortly after their relocation to Huntersville, Michel was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme Grade IV Cancer. This form of brain cancer, one of the most malignant, has a 5% survival rate. Michel had been suffering from symptoms including headaches, seizures, difficulty in speech, and comprehension. In addition to the original tumor, a new one was found in the frontal lobe in 2014. Despite this grave prognosis, Michel worked hard to fight these odds. Always with a smile on his face, he greeted his friends at Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics (HFFA) every day. The Garcia’s strong faith, support from friends and family, and a will to live keeps this wonderful family going every day. In Michel’s own words, “Life is what pushes me”.
Michel passed from this life on July 29, 2014.