If one is lucky enough to meet Clay Treska, as I was on Tuesday, it won’t take you long to notice his physical strength. And if you’re lucky enough to spend some time with him, to hear him speak, to share his story, and his outlook on life, one quickly comes to the realization that his strength goes far beyond the physical. If mental and spiritual muscles could be flexed, his would be bursting at the seams.
A framed picture of Clay hangs in the infusion center at the Moore’s Cancer center, where I go twice a week for blood work and occasional outpatient treatments. Before I had the opportunity to meet him, I saw this picture, and stopped and stared in amazement. On the left of the frame is Clay, weakened and bed-ridden. On the right is a seemingly different person, muscles bulging, competing in the Kona Ironman World Championships. For those that don’t know, Kona is the big one.
To call his story an inspiration would be perhaps the world’s biggest understatement. His cancer came back. They told him there was nothing they could do. They used words like ‘terminal’. They made hospice arrangements.
With a nothing to lose attitude, and a fighting spirit, he went out on a limb, emailing Lance Armstrong’s oncologist. To his surprise, he got a response. There was a new combination stem-cell/chemotherapy treatment in development that just might be worth a shot. He was admitted to UCSD’s clinical trials program, and began treatment immediately. The rest of the story (and it is still unfolding) is described in detail on Clay’s website TeamTreska.org, in a variety of media and youtube videos.
If you have a few minutes, I would encourage you to check out his site. This particular clip doesn’t cover the entire story, but I thought it was worth sharing and happens to feature my primary oncologist, Dr. Peter Curtin, who was Clay’s doctor as well:
To Clay: Thanks for being the person you are, and for reminding us all of the opportunity that exists in every challenge.
P.S. I have to thank the love of my life Natasha Moshirian for secretly setting up this visit. When Clay walked in and introduced himself, I think my jaw hit the floor. Thanks Tash!