In December 2006, Dr. Phillip Fields completed the First Light Marathon in Mobile, AL in preparation for the 2008 Boston Marathon. He was fifty-nine years old. This would be his third qualification. One week later, he was gasping for air as he attempted to complete a three-mile run. The next six months he underwent numerous medical test. All were negative except one. He had an elevated white blood cell count. In January 2008, he was sitting in an oncologist's office at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX waiting for a second opinion. The news was not good. The oncologist told him that he had leukemia with a five-to-seven year life expectancy. The worse news was to give up running for fear of hemorrhaging from a ruptured spleen. You see, running is his passion, his "why".
He initially followed the oncologist's advice, but then decided that if he only had five-to-seven year to live, he was going to spend that time doing what he loves―running marathons. Consequently, in February 2009, he set a goal to complete a marathon in every state and DC by the end of December 2012. That would be 51 marathons in 47 months. Along the way, he hoped to qualify again for the Boston Marathon.
Dr. Fields would use leukemia to his advantage as it attempted to hasten the sand escaping from his hourglass of life. Leukemia would be his excuse to travel. He would visit all those places in our country that had long been on his list to see. In other words, he, not leukemia, would do the dictating, at least for now. He stopped racing the clock and began racing leukemia to the finish line of his goal. He felt like he was now racing against the angel of death.
Join Dr. Fields as he attempts to reach his goal in spite of leukemia, cancer related fatigue, chemotherapy, and postchemotherapy fatigue due to chemotherapy induced myelodysplasia (failure of the bone marrow to produce sufficient red and white blood cells).
If you are reading this book, you probably fall into one of a few categories. If you are a runner, you will be able to relate to many of his adventures. Maybe you are a cancer patient or a family member of one. You, too, will be able to connect with many of the stories in this memoir. In these pages, you will find him writing about loves, losses, family, travel and childhood stories. Of course, there are also stories about running.
His aspirations for this book are numerous: One of them is to offer reasons to believe in God. Others are to provide a tribute to his mom; to recognize those individuals who helped him confront the harsh reality of cancer; and to remember those people in his life's journey who helped shape his belief system and his character.
There are people who leave footprints in the sand, and some even on the moon. More important are those who have left their footprints in his heart. Their footprints, like those of the dinosaurs that archeologists have found fossilized deep in the earth, will remain with him forever. Lastly, he hopes to inspire you, the reader, to never give up on living and never stop doing what you enjoy in life in spite of a diagnosis of cancer. A diagnosis is not the end. It is only the beginning.
He is optimistic that his journey will serve as a useful road map for yours.