When Nate was young, cancer was the furthest thing from his mind. But at just 24 years old, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Devastated by the diagnosis, Nate turned to his friends and family for support.
“My friends shaved their heads, and gave me a green mohawk before my first chemo treatment,” Nate says. “I remember walking into the doctor’s office and people were taken back by this thing on my head. It was not only a statement about who I am and who I’m going to be through this, but I like to think it was also encouraging to the other patients, doctors and nurses.”
Nate remembered that feeling throughout his treatment. And he beat cancer. He’s now a healthy husband and father who adores his two children, Harper and Harrison. But he wanted to support others who face what he faced – mounds of medical bills.
“The hardest part, honestly, was the financial battle,” Nate says. “At the time, I didn’t make much money. I had a huge car payment, student loans and now a Mt. Everest of medical bills. I remember sitting at my parents kitchen table and vowing that I’m not only going to beat cancer, but I’m going conqueror it. And, I’m going to somehow help others to do the same, but didn’t have a clue on how to do that.”
Then Nate had an idea – he’d bike across the country, from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla., to raise money to help offset the cost of cancer treatments. Five years after his treatment, after he finished paying his medical bills and other debts, he turned to Cincinnati Children’s to see how he could and started a Giving Hope fundraiser called Courage 4 Cancer.
Nate raised $20,000 for patients at Cincinnati Children’s who are currently or have faced cancer. They will be given some relief of their financial burden through our Charitable Care Fund, which provides one-time stipends to qualifying families who face complex and multiple costly diagnoses. The money helps offset the cost of things like prescription drugs, therapies, special equipment and other medical necessities.
Nate started fundraising for his trip and began his journey on Oct. 16 and ended on Nov. 23. Along the way, he met many people who have taken a similar journey.
“Everyone knows someone who has been touched by cancer,” Nate says. “Along the way, I’d stop at a gas station to get a bottle of water, and I’d meet people and tell them what I was doing it and why I was doing it. They would share their stories with me, and it’s inspiring to hear how cancer can change lives.”
Nate said some of those people became his supporters. He recalled one woman who gave him $20.
“She said, ‘It’s all I have right now,’ and it was just an amazing moment. People really want to help fight cancer and help others.”
Nate posted blogs and videos to his website, courage4cancer.org, so friends and family could stay in touch with his progress.
“I’m not a cyclist,” Nate says. “So it was pretty tough. I rode anywhere from 80 to 100 miles a day. I did a lot of my training on the Loveland bike trail and on a trainer at my house, but nothing prepared me for the mountains, the heat and the cold. It’s incredible what your body can do when you push it.”
And that’s the message Nate wanted to share with those who have faced and are currently facing cancer: you have to take it one day at a time and never give up. Even when his body was aching and he had lost 10 pounds in one day, he said he knew he wasn’t going to stop.
“I don’t even really enjoy cycling,” he says. “But I wanted to tell people that if I can do this, you can get through cancer.”
For now, Nate will let his bike rest. He and his family are already planning their next fundraiser, a kayak relay down the Ohio River.
If you, or your company, are interested in holding a Giving Hope fundraiser, contact Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-636-0184.