Confessions From A Personal Trainer: I Know Darth Vader

True Confession Tuesday:

Where every Tuesday: I confess.

Confession: I know Darth Vader.

No, REALLY, I know Darth Vader. One of my friends from Tough Mudder legally changed his name to Darth Vader. But aside from the cool name change, he has an inspiring story I want to share with you.


“I was coming up on the end of my life expectancy with cancer and that’s when I put it into overdrive.”

The quote above is from Darth Vader. He’s a 14 year cancer survivor among so many things.

“I’m here to legitimately push my physical limits and my mind as far as it can.” 

Take 2 minutes to watch this quick video about him from Tough Mudder Chicago.

Darth Vader lives his life as if it is truly his day- because it might be. Every time I see him doing something like another Tough Mudder, a half marathon, marathon, triathlon, I am reminded to get off the couch and get busy. Life is for living!!

In 2002, I had blood work as a follow-up to recent surgery and was surprisingly diagnosed.  After further testing I was diagnosed with Essential Thrombocytosis, Myeoloproliferative Disorder and Myelofibrosis. In short, I had…leukemia.

After learning this news, I immediately started chemotherapy. I went through 15 rounds of chemotherapy sessions over a 3-month period and endured six bone marrow biopsies and countless blood draws.
I am a 14-year cancer survivor that has to live with long term side-effects of the chemotherapy treatments, which include memory loss, fatigue, permanent hair loss, chronic headaches and emotional stress. All of which have taken a significant toll on my immunity, heart and mind. 

Did I mention that not only is he a cancer survivor but he’s also awaiting a leg amputation and does all of these events in a specialized cast/brace for his leg? It’s so damn inspiring.

Below is his story from a crowd fund page set up by a friend for his leg procedure which is unfortunately an elective procedure.


The problem: 20+ years ago, his leg was originally broken via a sports injury resulting in multiple fractures and dislocation of the ankle. This has resulted in: 8 arthroscopic surgeries, bone removal, bone edema, Achilles tendon lengthening process, TENS unit, years of physical therapy, a permanent Arizona leg brace, 2 lumbar nerve block procedures, 5% range of motion, no cartilage between the talus and tibia which is causing the ankle to fuse to itself. There is daily chronic and acute pain from simply moving around doing basic activities. Solution: Amputation. All other avenues have been exhausted and this is the only option available for quality of life. Sadly, this is seen as an elective procedure and will not be covered by insurance. Cost: $50,000. Medical expenses including travel and below-the-knee amputation will be $35,000 and the cost of prosthetics and post-op PT will be $15,000. Currently looking for a doctor who will perform this surgery. With his permission, I have been allowed to share this information in hopes of raising the means necessary to fund this surgery. For anyone who has seen my friend, it is hard to comprehend that most of his days are spent in pain. He has completed 51 Tough Mudders, 38 Half-Marathons, and 4 Full Marathons. If you’ve seen his “Beast List” you know that he participates in a race or event mostly every weekend. He has served proudly as a United States Marine; a veteran who needs our help. He’s not only served as an inspiration to myself, but to hundreds of people throughout the area. This is not an impulsive decision, but one that has been well researched over a number of years. It is my hope that funds can be raised by those of us who have seen him run from 5Ks to half and full marathons in a gas mask carrying the American Flag or participate in Tough Mudders, which consist on 10-12 mile military-style obstacle course races.

All while he continues to battle leukemia and cancer, chemotherapy and Dr. appointments… as he has been for the past 14 years. He is currently waiting and has been on the Bone Marrow Transplant List for the past 7 years.
I hope that you can be inspired by Darth Vader to live your life to the fullest. Whatever that means for you. Take some time to figure that out.

So ask yourself this question for real (and then do it)

What would you do if today was your last day??

If you need a little more inspiration and likely some tears – please watch Darth Vader on a recently aired show called “My Last Days” where they follow 6 people who choose happiness while living with terminal illness.

My Last Days

Two of our work outs over Labor Day weekend will be to benefit Darth Vader’s funds for his new leg. Friday evening’s work out and Saturday’s ruck. I hope to see you there but if you can’t be there and would like to donate – just CLICK HERE.

Some of the most inspiring people are often right in front of you!!



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