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Washington, DC Fire Fighter Battling Cancer Finishes Marathon

October 31, 2013 – Washington, DC Local 36 fire fighter Preston Williams has been fighting various forms of cancer off and on since January 2008. But Williams isn’t letting the cancer win. He just finished his first marathon – the Marine Corps Marathon – in seven hours and 20 minutes.

“We are so proud of Preston’s perseverance and his determination to fight the good fight,” says Local 36 President Ed Smith.

Williams says the challenge was so difficult he was tempted to quit, but he is glad he kept his eye on prize. “I was going through chemotherapy through much of time that I needed to be training,” says Williams. “Sometimes when I needed to be running five miles, I could only do it by walking.”

The Washington, DC fire fighter says he was further boosted by the support of his brother who ran the marathon with him. “Somewhere around mile-marker 17, we saw the bus which would take people unable to complete the race to the finish line. My brother and I thought really hard about getting on that bus, but we shook it off and encouraged each other to keep going.”

In 2008, like many men in the early stages of prostate cancer, Williams was not experiencing any symptoms. He went to go get check up because he had a family history. Williams’ positive prostate cancer diagnosis was treated with surgery to remove his prostate. He went more than a year with a clean bill of health.

Then, signs that cancer had returned showed up in follow-up visits with his doctor at the National Institute of Health (NIH). This time, his doctors recommended radiation therapy, which also seemed to work.

But now, the cancer has metastasized throughout his body. Williams has qualified for a trial study which involves pills and chemotherapy.

“My doctors have advised me that my survival is more about controlling the cancer instead of getting rid of it altogether,” says Williams.

Meanwhile, the Local 36 member is still working fulltime at his fire house. “Doing my job – fighting fires – invigorates me,” he says.

More about Williams’ journey to beat cancer can be found on his blog.


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Copyright 2014 International Association of Fire Fighters.  Last Modified:  4/18/2014