By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Forty thousand runners are expected for the Blue Cross Broad Street Run on Sunday, May 3rd. In the crowd with be a cancer survivor and his doctor who have a special bond.
Fifty-six-year-old Carlos Rivera is getting ready for the Blue Cross Broad Street Run, something he always did until three years ago when he was diagnosed with a rare cancer. “It’s given me a different outlook on life, how fragile life is,” Carlos says.
His daughter Raquel Rivera says there were, “A lot of rocky roads along the way, it was scary, we didn’t know if he was going to be here.”
The cancerous tumor on the left side of his neck was removed in an eight-hour surgery that included reconstruction using tissue from his back. Then there were grueling rounds of radiation and chemotherapy.
“He has a very tough cancer,” says Dr. Jeffrey Liu, Director of Head and Neck Oncologic Surgery at Temple University Hospital. Dr. Liu says from the beginning Carlos was optimistic and determined to get back to the Blue Cross Broad Street Run.
Carlos says, “As long as hope is alive you’re good, it embodies the human spirit. Your body is compromised, not your spirit.” “It’s really an inspiration to everyone,” Dr. Liu says.
Temple Hospital has a banner up for the runners saying: Power Through. Carlos will pass it running with Dr. Liu at his side — the man he credits with saving his life. Dr. Liu says he told Carlos, “We’re going to get you back onto Broad Street, I’m going to run with you and it’ll be a real milestone.”
Raquel says, “It’s going to be super emotional, plenty of tears .. all happy tears we didn’t know if this day was going to come.”
Now Carlos, his two daughters and grandson are finally celebrating happy days. Carlos says, “Life is about running, you’re on the run all the time. It’s a life of endurance.”
He says it might take him a couple of hours to cross the finish line at the Navy Yard, but he’ll be there with Dr. Liu.
The Broad Street Run has raised almost $1.5 million for the American Cancer Society, the money going directly to research and patient care.
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