In the summer of 2013 Dave DeSantis was diagnosed with stage 3C melanoma and told he had one-year to live. But Dave had other plans, so he fought and he fought. He tried every available remedy and medication until his grapefruit sized tumors shrank and his cancer went into remission.
Now he’s using his good health and good fortune to do great things.
“Over the past three years, training for – and competing in – XTERRA off-road triathlons has played a huge role in my battle against cancer,” said DeSantis, the reigning XTERRA Warrior Award winner. “Therefore, I’ve set an ambitious goal for myself for 2016 of racing in 16 XTERRA events in 16 countries around the globe.”
Along the way his goal is to raise $16,000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
“I couldn't be happier, I'm doing what I love and feel as if I'm getting a second chance - and I'm psyched about CAF, I love what they do and I'm very excited about helping them support athletes in need.”
On Sunday the 54-year-old from Milton, Massachusetts successfully completed his first XTERRA of the season under the shadows of the Mayon Volcano in the Philippines.
“Albay was amazing! The people are so friendly and welcoming. And I really lucked out with the weather on race day: it was rainy and cloudy the entire day so I didn't have to contend with reapplying sunscreen on the bike or have to run with an umbrella (per the oncologist),” said DeSantis. “The race course in Albay is incredible: black sand beach, and turquoise waters then mountain biking up the Mt Mayon Volcano through villages, a golf course, lava beds, dense jungle with animals everywhere - it is amazing! Then a run up and though a dry river bed of lava sand then you descend through rice paddies and fields to the finish at the Cagsawa Ruins (a stone church buried when the volcano erupted hundreds of years ago). Just an incredible venue.”
He finished second in his division, but first in the people’s hearts. As word of his “16 in 16” mission spread the XTERRA community jumped into action and raised more than half of his $16,000 goal in a matter of days.
“Fundraising for CAF took off in the Philippines,” explained DeSantis, who took in more than $8,000 in donations on his gofundme.com/desantis16in2016 page.
“Sunrise Events made a very generous donation which then set in motion a ton of additional donations. The pros at the event were making donations, the age groupers made donations, friends at home saw the activity and made additional donations. I'm amazed and very proud of the generosity of all the XTERRA athletes and friends that have supported CAF.”
His health is also doing well.
“I feel really good right now. The cancer is in remission. I do need to get CT scans and MRI's every 90 days to make sure the cancer doesn't grow or move. I'm a bit under-weight and do get tired easily. My coach had a long talk with me about rest and recovery through this year, and she has put together a plan to meet those needs. I really need to pace myself and be extremely smart about rest, travel and diet to accomplish my goals this year.”
Up next; XTERRA South Africa on February 20 in Grabouw.
“Every day I wake up, look at where I am and have to pinch myself,” said DeSantis.
Find Dave in a country near you this year, and join him in his mission to “Live More.” Here’s a look at his tentative 16 in 2016 schedule…
2/7 - Philippines
2/20 - South Africa
3/20 - Costa Rica
4/3 - Malta
5/7 - Greece
5/21 - Alabama
6/23 - Switzerland
7/3 - France
7/11 - Belgium
7/31 - Dominican Republic
8/6 - Mexico
8/27 - Japan
9/3 - Korea
9/16 - Utah
10/23 - Maui
11/19 - Australia (ITU)