In 2012, I started working for a private oncology medical practice in San Diego. Oncology – something else I never thought would be my thing. But, it was at this practice that I found my passion for caring for oncology patients and helping them through their treatment journey. It was also at this practice that I found my best friend, Abby. She is an amazing oncology nurse who taught me everything I know and was the one who introduced me to running. At the time we met, she was training for a half marathon. After a few months, she convinced me to sign up as well. And so my love of running & oncology was born.
Several years later, I began a new career as an Oncology Nurse Navigator in Colorado. I traded in my scrubs for business casual and began a different journey while still working with oncology patients. In September 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting Luke Kellerman. I wish I would have never met him because just by meeting me it meant that he had cancer.
Luke was very young when he was diagnosed – too young to even think about being affected by this horrible disease. He was a fighter and he had an attitude that he was going to beat this thing. Luke and I would chat every couple of weeks during treatment. We worked through the ups and the downs and I always made sure I was available to answer any questions he or his wife, Katie, had – even the one about mushrooms :)
Luke wasn’t very far into his diagnosis or treatment when he decided that he needed to do something for the community. He wasn’t just going to let this diagnosis claim him, he was going to claim it and do some good with it. Luke worked for the Denver Broncos and partnered with them to create the “Fight Like A Bronco” campaign where the Denver Broncos would not only recognize breast cancer, but would include all different types of cancers. This campaign would soon spread through the rest of the NFL and now each team within the NFL has the ability to shine light on whatever type of cancer they want. All thanks to Luke.
In October 2017, Luke was celebrated by the Denver Broncos for his efforts in the Fight Like A Bronco campaign and the awareness he brought to colorectal cancer. I was lucky enough to be at the game where he was recognized and presented him with a personalized Broncos jersey with the signatures of his entire oncology team as well as some key Broncos players. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the last time that I would ever see him.
On October 26, 2017, Luke passed away at the age of 34.
Before he died, he was interviewed by ESPN and told his story to the world: https://www.denverbroncos.com/video/espn-feature-luke-kellerman-20417403
Throughout your nursing career, you meet thousands of people. And, there’s always that handful that stick with you for one reason or another. From the moment I met Luke, I knew that he was going to be one of these people. I didn’t know why, but I just knew he would be someone I would never forget. He lives on through his legacy and the countless number of people that he touched, either knowingly or unknowingly.
So, here I am again – crazy enough to run another half marathon. On October 21, 2018, I'll be running the Denver Rock N Roll Half Marathon. And this time I’m doing it for Luke.
While I'm training for this race, I'm also fundraising for the Colon Cancer Alliance in Luke's honor. I know times are tough, but please take the time to donate whatever you can. Even $1 helps.
Thank you so much!