By Steve Neavling
Just a month after Secret Service Agent Rodney Wellman began radiation for tumors that spread to his brain, the 49-year-old father took part in a grueling 100K race in the Arizona desert.
His goal was to challenge himself and to raise awareness about lung cancer.
Last October, Wellman became seriously ill. Believing he had a bad chest cold, he went to see a doctor and learned he had stage 4 lung cancer that had spread to his brain and lymph nodes.
The diagnosis shocked him because he had never smoked. Now he wants people to know that even non-smokers can get lung cancer.
“People automatically assume that people who have lung cancer must have smoked, and you did this to yourself,” Wellman told Runner’s World. “There’s a lot of people like me where that is not the case, yet it seems to get pushed down the funding lists.”
Wellman began training for the Javelina Hundred Endurance Run, a difficult trek for even veteran runners. Some of his Secret Service colleagues joined him. The idea was to raise money for lung cancer awareness and research.
Special Agent Rodney Wellman has stage 4 lung cancer, and he is going to run 100 kilometers in the @JavelinaJundred to raise awareness for a cure. Go #TeamWellman, we are all behind you! Check back for updates on Special Agent Wellman. pic.twitter.com/NNpp4orFVo
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) October 11, 2019
Over the weekend, Wellman gave it a go. About three-quarters into the run, he had to stop because of severe cramping.
“This is a long fight, and we’re just getting started,” Wellman told CBS News.