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It started on a simple 5K run around the San Diego River in Mission Valley.
Ted Hoyt began to feel a slight numbness in his foot. The feeling quickly shot through his leg, torso, hand, and face, leaving his body with a tingling sensation. But as quickly as it appeared, it disappeared. Ted went back out for a five-mile run the following day when the numbness reappeared. As soon as Ted would walk, the feeling would go away, so he continued on with his life. It was only after he began losing energy during his workouts and forgetting long-time coworkers’ names did he realize something was wrong.
“Being an amateur runner and a CrossFit athlete, I thought I could work my way through the pain,” Ted recalls. But this was not something Ted could just work his way through.
Ted finally went to see a doctor after the urging of his wife, coworkers, and friends. His goal was to get a quick check up on Friday, and then run the 2011 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon two days later. After the appointment, doctors insisted he come back for more tests and a MRI. Ultrasounds came back normal, but a MRI Sunday June 12, 2011 forever changed Ted’s life. The MRI showed a “lesion” on Ted’s brain, approximately six centimeters in size and inside his left frontal lobe. He was immediately given more tests, including a CAT scan.
Ted originally thought it could be an infection or something small from the many international trips he and his wife Julie had been on earlier that year. If only. Further tests Monday confirmed that Ted was one of 10,000 people in the USA diagnosed with Glioblastoma multiforme – a GBM brain tumor. Doctors told Ted that the average life span was 8-12 months, although with his youth and level of fitness, he might get two years. Neurosurgery was scheduled for two days later on Wednesday June 15.
“Julie (my wife) was great. We held onto each other like we never have. My profession as a social worker led me into many situations with medically fragile children so I knew first-hand how devastating on everyone a terminal cancer diagnosis was.” Ted was strong for friends and family, but recalls letting fear take over when they wheeled him into the OR.
“I was an Army veteran, had been in some pretty hairy situations in the field as a social worker, but I was as frightened as I ever had been in my 44 years. I wept like a baby.”
In what he says as the “simplest, kindest act of mercy ever given to me,” a nurse saw his tears and held his hand during the operation.
Ted had made sure to tell the doctors to be as aggressive as they could be digging out the tumor without him losing the ability to self care and move. 80% of the tumor was cut out of Ted’s brain and he was sent back home that Friday. “My greatest blessing throughout this was my wife Julie. We’ve had a fairy tale life together – our relationship is one in a million. She is the hero of this story.”
Friends and family members poured out love as Ted recovered from the operation. Members of CrossFit Mission Gorge heard what was happening to their community member and rallied to lend a hand. Someone brought meals by each day for over a month. Others showed up to do yard work, clean rain gutters, and help wherever they could. The affiliate even held a fund raising in his honor. Ted’s eyes tear up just talking about their outpouring of love.
Coach Dawn Fletcher of Fletcher Fitness refused to let Ted slack off in his recovery. Dawn had trained Ted prior to GBM, including his personal best in the 2010 Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon of 1:48. Now she helps him continue to train, starting with simple movements like squats and lunges. She even picked him up in October after chemo and steroids had destroyed his body.
“Her best character trait? She refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer, but still allows me to fight on my own terms. She’s modified my WODs (CrossFit workout of the day) so I can achieve it.”
Ted started training again with Dawn in September 2011. At the time, he couldn’t sit to stand, struggled with a normal walking pattern, and was incredibly limited in his range of motion and mobility, especially in his right side. Ted’s commitment to regain his physical body was seen when he took the three hour total round trip to see Dawn for workouts twice a week.
2012 couldn’t have been better for Ted. He hiked Cowels mountain in March and together with Dawn, walked the entire 2012 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in June. “I wanted to finish before the cut off time. I was unable to race in 2011 and I wanted to finish what I set out to do.” Ted continues to train 2x per week with Dawn and is gaining back his physical strength every day. His commitment to overcoming what can be a devastating prognosis is inspiring.
Life is worth competing for – and there is no better spokesperson for that message than Ted Hoyt.