Like all tribes, the XTERRA Tribe looks out for its members. When someone is down, we offer a hand. On the course it might be a high-five, a thumbs up, or a pat on the back. Off the course, we reach out in any way we can.
Carl Cote was initially diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011. He had surgery and was followed for five years. Over that time he had regular checkups and all of his scans were normal.
Two weeks before the XTERRA World Championship in 2016, Carl’s cancer came back. This time, the 28-year old is also pursuing alternative therapies, such as an organic diet, meditation, exercise, and plenty of rest.
We were contacted about Carl by his friend Sheldon Timms, who trains and races with him. Carl didn't want to "burden anyone," but Sheldon and another friend, Patrick Nesbitt, set up a GoFundMe link to help the Cote family.
Graciously, (after a bit of coaxing by Sheldon and XTERRA) Carl shared his experience with us about what it’s like to fight cancer twice and what second chances mean for him now.
Q. How long have you been competing in XTERRA races?
A. I’ve been doing XTERRA off-road triathlons since 2014. I qualified for Worlds in 2014 in XTERRA Mine Over Matter in the 25-29 age group. In 2015, I was 11th at Worlds in my age group, and in 2016 I was 6th. I was hoping to make the podium this year until my diagnosis.
Hopefully my future holds a many more World Championship appearances but that's not something I am focused on at the moment.
Q. And you have a new and growing family now?
A. Yes. My wife and I have a beautiful 16-month old named Vivianne, which means “lively.” She definitely lives up to her name. She is a very expressive and busy girl. She’s always happy and cheerful and brings us so much joy.
In about a week or so, we are expecting a baby boy, so we are very excited to meet him.
Q. What was your life like before cancer?
A. I’m a pressure pipe welder, which means I work about 50 hours a week. Specifically I work 10-11 hour days on a 10-day on, 4-day off schedule. Additionally I trained 10-12 hours a week swimming, biking, and running.
I wouldn’t say I was balancing work and training well, to be honest. I missed out on a lot of time with my family. I also didn’t listen to my body and kept training even though I was sick most of last year.
But my wife and I love the outdoors and we are a very active family so we have always enjoyed doing that together. We brought Vivienne hiking and camping all summer and she already enjoys the outdoors as much as her parents. Once our baby boy is born, we are going to spend as much time outside as we can while waiting for my next scans in July.
Q. How are you fighting cancer?
A. I’ve had a fairly healthy diet since 2011, and especially since I started triathlon, I’ve been more watchful of what I put in my body. Now I’m fighting this disease with an organic diet, daily juicing, regular exercise, meditation, and holistic treatments that won’t compromise my long-term health so I can be a healthy and happy father to my children.
I haven't done chemotherapy. The simple fact of toxic chemicals injected into my blood seems counterproductive for me. My health means everything, and I am not prepared to compromise it carelessly when there are hundreds of alternative treatments that have proven to be successful.
I know many people may not understand why I would refuse to do chemotherapy and I’m not trying to change anyone’s opinion on the subject. I've come to realize that the patient's personal outlook on the treatments - whether holistic or conventional - need to be strongly believed in no matter what. The emotions you have towards the treatments you choose have a significant impact on the results.
Q. What are your plans for when you are healthy again?
A. Before I got sick, I was eating, breathing, and sleeping triathlon. But my goals for racing weren’t the right ones.
When I’m able to start training again, I’m going to focus less on what place I get and more on what I love about XTERRA, which is to be the best person I can be and do what needs to be done in the moment I’m in. I want to embrace the beauty of fitness and enjoy how great the people are who are in the sport.
I don’t want to neglect my family to achieve my personal goals, and for that reason, I’m trying to switch careers so I can balance work, family and endurance sports.
Q. Anything else?
A. I just want to thank everyone who reads this. I believe they are sending us much-needed strength and support as we get through the biggest fight of our adult lives. We know our path will lead us to Maui again. We will simply take it one day at a time and see where we end up.
You can help the Cote family at www.gofundme.com