Dewey Gerk, 51, was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer in 2003. Doctors gave him, at most, one year to live.
But ten years later, Gerk has proven them very, very wrong.
He still teachers the fourth grade, despite undergoing exhausting chemotherapy treatments. And while he plans to cut back to half-days next year, after 30 years of teaching, he has no plans to retire.
The determined cancer patient also participates in an annual charity race — Run 4 Greeley — that supports the Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute. Painful treatments didn't keep him from attending this month's run.
"There’s no doubt the years have taken a toll. Gerk’s remained positive through crushing setbacks — more than once, the cancer came back after scans offered hope that it had finally left his body — and continual treatments that made him forget what it was like to feel normal. A week before the race, yet another different treatment had dried out his skin so much that it hurt to pick up a cup of coffee," wrote the Greeley Tribune's Dan England.
On July 4, Gerk walked the 5-km course, pushing his niece's 1-year-old son in a stroller. Thirty of his family members joined him in support.
"He just has a well like no one else," niece Kelly Gerk Bush said, adding that Gerk visited her in the hospital after she had given birth despite him having just received chemo treatment.
Gerk doesn't know how much time he has left — "I've never asked," Gerk told the Greeley Tribune. "I don't want to know. I can’t live like that." And he continues to make plans, most of them family-related, for the future.
In March, Iram Leon, suffering from terminal brain cancer, won a marathon while pushing his 6-year-old daughter in a stroller.
"This is supposed to eat away at my memory in the end," Iram Leon told the Beaumont Enterprise of the cancer in his left temporal lobe. "But I hope this memory is one of the last things to go and one she never loses."
Leon hopes his cancer fight inspires others to better their lives:
"People shouldn't wait to live until they're told they're dying," Leon said. "Go home and hug somebody and don't wait to be told you have a disease that's going to kill you. I ran my entire life and I was dumb enough to wait until I was told I was dying before I ran with my daughter."