Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Man of Iron

An Atlantan turns a cancer diagnosis into a prescription for hope.

When Atlantan Mike Stashak discovered he had mid-stage Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2007, he had a choice—succumb to despair or cling to his sense of humor. He resolved to do the latter. “When you think about being pickled and microwaved during treatment, sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself,” the 37-year-old marketing consultant and entrepreneur says.

And so he kept a smile on his face throughout chemotherapy and radiation, despite the fact he had to give up his beloved sport of running during the grueling treatment process. Still, he never lost his passion for endurance sports, and in 2009—seven months after he finished chemotherapy—he got a sign it was time he got back in the saddle. “Two friends called me within five minutes of one another saying, ‘Let’s do the Augusta Half Ironman,’” Stashak says.

Though he’d barely resumed his running regimen, Stashak agreed, signing up to train for the race with Team in Training and raise funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Georgia Chapter. He says the entire training and racing experience was a hugely cathartic one. “I was training for a dream of mine, raising money for something I feel very strongly about and meeting tons of great people, all with their own set of stories and inspiration,” he says. “It was a great summer.”

Stashak raised a total of $5,800, and he’s now signed on to do the St. Anthony’s Olympic-Distance Triathlon this spring. His long-term goal? Stay in excellent shape and eventually raise $100,000 for cancer research. “I think I will be involved with Team in Training for a long time,” he says.

This article appears in the February issue of Competitor Southeast Magazine and is part of the Georgia Multisports Productions 2010 Race Program. Article is published here by permission of Competitor Group LLC.

Team In Training Georgia Chapter is currently recruiting for the Tri Latta Triathlon in Charlotte, NC on June 13, 2010 and the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon on july 11, 2010. Call the TNT Staff for more information, (404) 720-7842.

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