Georgia man to complete half Ironman as he battles incurable lung cancer | Fox News

  • Ryan Marsh( left) and Kirk Smith( right) at the finishing line of the Free to Breathe 5K in drop-off 2015. ( Credit Cassie Wright)

  • Kirk Smith with his wife, Jayne, six weeks after his initial diagnosis. ( Credit Cassie Wright)

  • Kirk Smith and his oncologist Dr. Cynthia Shepherd after the Tri to Beat Cancer in descend 2015. ( Courtesy Kirk Smith)

Kirk Smith doesnt care much for the word awareness instead, he opts the word hope.

The 54 -year-old is training for a half Ironman triathlon in October while battling an vigorous, genetic-linked kind of lung cancer that has a poverty-stricken survival rates and no antidote. He wants to invigorate others, cancer case or not, and see them believe that anything is possible, even in light of terminal illness.

Smith, who owns a graphic design and web house in Athens, Ga ., was diagnosed in December 2013 with theatre 3B lung cancer, which makes the disease had spread from his lungs onto the opposite side of his chest and into his lymph nodes. That theatre of cancer has a 5 percentage five-year survival rate, obligating it one of the most severe cancers in the world.

Since his diagnosis, though, Smith has guided countless 5Ks, 10 Ks, half marathons, and sprint-distance hastens thanks to a longtime interest in such physical pursuits, but too due to a targeted medication that stymie the genetic mutation that made the disease. Smith has never smoked cigarettes, which causes nine out of 10 lung cancers, in agreement with the Middles for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you get cancer, its not automatically a death sentence, or that your-quality-of-life-is-going-to-crap convict, Smith told Thats one of the biggest things for me: With targeted care, Im able to do this, and my quality of life of canadians has changed very little.

Smith is aiming to complete half of the PPD IRONMAN( r) North Carolina triathlon on Oct. 22, 2016, as part of team Free to Breathe, a Madison, Wisconsin-based lung cancer research and advocacy group. A half Ironman, often referred to as an Ironman 70.3, commits about that numerous miles total: a 1.2 -mile swim, a 56 -mile bike ride, and a 13.1 -mile run.

If I experience a guy whos doing a half Ironman and know he has late-stage lung cancer, I would be inspired, but I also think Id be, Thats prodigious how has cancer treatment gotten to this stage that that could be done? Smith said.

Smiths oncologist Cynthia Shepherd, an internist at the University Cancer and Blood Center in Athens, Ga ., told me that she considers him not only a patient but likewise a friend.

Kirk is a special person to me, Shepherd told Its merely exciting to recognize him hopefully as the appearance of Free to Breathe to help educate others about the importance of research.

Research led to the creation of the narcotic thats keeping Smiths life.

He is part of the nearly 4 percent of Americans whose lung cancer stanch from a genetic mutation. After experiencing genetic testing for about 200 mutations, he was diagnosed with ALK+ lung cancer, tagged by an anaplastic lymphoma kinase genetic mutation.

“[ Smith] was doing anything and is doing everything right in regards to employ and eating right — and unfortunately, he still got lung cancer.”

– Cynthia Shepherd, Kirk Smith’s oncologist

He went to the emergency room after suffered by chest pain during a mild 30 -minute operate residence from its term of office. Previous inconvenience came and departed during his runs, but when it appeared more intense, he chalked it up to a pulled muscle. This time was worse.

It hurt so much, I had to stop. It felt like someone was jabbing me, he said.

Smith drove himself to the emergency room, at this quality seeing a soul problem may have been the source of his suffering. He didnt have a family history of lung cancer, and none of his immediate relatives smoked.

A pulmonologist took a tissue sample and scheduled a bronchoscopy a few days later. On Dec. 26, 2013, Smith was diagnosed with the disease doctors learnt two tumors in his left lung, and the hurting hed been experiencing was one pinching a portion of the organ and cutting off blood supply.

That part of my lung is now toast, Smith told. If I hadnt get it checked, I may have gotten to stage 4[ lung cancer ], which has an as bad survival rate, somewhere under 10 percent.

If Smith was diagnosed about a decade ago, doctors would have set him on a traditional cancer treatment regimen, with chemotherapy and radiation. But in 2007, scientists detected the ALK mutation, following their the purpose of determining the EGFR and preceding the ROS1 two other genetic mutations linked with lung cancer. Doctors have noticed the ALK mutation often changes people with Smiths profile: men who have had little to no showing to tobacco, and who are active and healthy.

[ Smith] was doing anything and is doing everything right in regards to employ and gobbling right and regrettably, he still got lung cancer, Shepherd said.

In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration( FDA) approved crizotinib, a drug developed to combat the ALK mutation. Smith took the drug from January to February 2014, and it halted his tumor from proliferating, but it also made his liver enzymes to skyrocket to hazardous levels.

If your liver cant capacity, it can shut down and you can die of liver failure, Shepherd did. Even though[ crizotinib] kills the cancer, it has this unique toxicity in the liver.

Shepherd tried restarting Smith at a lower dose but eventually switched him to ceritinib in May 2014, which the FDA approved the month prior. Ceritinib impedes the proliferation of cancer cadres caused by the genetic pathway and its coinciding resist to apoptosis, or the bodys ability to kill cells, effectively eradicating the cadres and halting their growth. Unlike chemotherapy and radioactivity, targeted medications like ceritinib kill exclusively cancer cadres , not health cells.

Smiths recently completed CT scan about two years after being on the drug indicated clear lymph nodes and immeasurably tiny lung cancer tumors.

This shows what a impressive dope it is and the best interests of procuring this mutant in parties like Kirk, Shepherd said.

Although its uncertain whether Smiths diet and utilization have cleared his medication more effective, Shepherd believes its apparent that his lifestyle has helped muffle some of the pharmaceuticals side effects, including nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Smith takes four pills a period, and usually if he takes one before he exercises, he doesnt have those problems.

Not exclusively does exercise preserve me healthy, but it helps my quality of life of canadians so Im not at work with bowel questions, Smith said.

“Obviously parties look at him and appear inspired without even knowing what his place is.”

– Ryan Marsh, Kirk Smith’s longtime friend and personal trainer

Ryan Marsh, business partners at Athens Personal Fitness in Athens, Ga ., controls Smiths diet and rigorous developing regimen. He goes on steady-paced morning ranges that scope from 5 to 8 miles six days a few weeks. In the afternoons or evenings, blaze do strength educate twice, and among the five other periods hell do swimming, or mountain or street biking. On Sunday, though, Smith does a footpath was participating in the morning, a two- to three-hour road ride, plus an afternoon swim.

Since hes been on this new pharmaceutical, the primary side effect is muscle cramping, and thats just something almost a normal person would experience with some of the things he does, added Marsh, 37, who as Smiths accountability partner helps ensure he doesnt over-exert himself. But he seems to do a good job of dialing back the ferocity when[ the muscle cramps] come back.

To support his physical pleasure, Smith eats about 4,000 calories a epoch, including one or two protein-rich smoothies. Marsh said that intake has helped improve Smiths immunity and attain his fitness destinations safely.

One of the coolest circumstances about Kirk is he is so encouraging, announced Marsh, who has been friends with Smith since 2008, before his diagnosis. Plainly beings look at him and experience invigorated without even knowing what his place is.

Smith identifies Shepherd for monthly checkups to ensure his liver enzymes arent too raised and that his tumor is still curbed. Targeted dopes like ceritinib are too brand-new to know how much survival rates for cases like Smith have improved, but Shepherd spoke data indicate the doses work for a few years.

It would not be a shock for[ Smith] to hear me say that eventually the cancer will start develop, Shepherd replied. When, we dont know. We care we knew so we could catch it.

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