May 6, 2016

Fighting Back to Good Health

Fighting Back to Good HealthThe ability to get up after being knocked down and rise to new heights is an attribute that can help shape our lives and help us cope with life’s challenges.

Chuck Cordell knows first-hand the value of this attribute. When struck with adversity, he faced it head on, drew from his inner core to fight it off, and emerged even stronger in body and mind.

Cordell has played sports since an early age. Always an avid baseball and basketball player, he went to The Citadel (also known as The Military College of South Carolina) on a basketball scholarship. He continued to play baseball and, as would be expected at a military college, was in top physical condition.

Following graduation, a less rigorous pace led to a bit of weight gain, but it didn’t take Cordell long to get back into the swing of things. Literally. He moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina, and started playing golf. That led to becoming involved with the development of 1,265 acres of magnificent rolling hills that now includes the Forest Creek Golf Club and its two nationally ranked courses.

Things were going well. Cordell had a great family, and he had his dream job, set in the natural beauty of Forest Creek.

At age 54, feeling like the picture of health, Cordell received a diagnosis of myeloma during a routine check-up.

After researching his options, he came to the Myeloma Center, where he underwent intensive treatment including two stem cell transplants and four years of heavy chemotherapy and other drug regimens.

Not one to give in, Cordell was determined to beat the myeloma, which at one point left him barely able to walk up his driveway, and work his way back to physical fitness. In complete remission from his disease, he started strength training and resumed his golf game. Cordell regained his top-notch physical condition, prompting his personal trainer to suggest that he enter an Ultra marathon.

What is an Ultra marathon? One could think of it as a regular marathon on steroids. Instead of the standard 26.2 miles, an Ultra is 31 miles (50K).

How did Cordell do it? He worked out and he worked out some more. With 15 months of consistent training under his belt, Cordell decided to tackle the Ultra and use it to encourage and inspire other myeloma patients. He wanted to share the message that life is not over just because one is diagnosed with myeloma. And, he wanted to give patients hope, knowing that advances in treatment, like those pioneered at the Myeloma Center, can lead to a cure and enriched lives.

Running a marathon had always been on Cordell’s bucket list, but, the impetus and time for training had always eluded him. With his newfound goal of encouraging other myeloma patients, he was driven.

The Ultra was held on the grounds of Forest Creek, Cordell’s home turf. Starting at 6:00 a.m., and with 12 hours allotted for completing the race, the day was long. Cordell had plenty of time to see the beauty of the grounds in a new light — the sun rising over the golf course, steam rising from the lakes and ponds — and to marvel at the busy chatter of wildlife throughout the day. At the critical 26.2 mile mark, his daughter Caroline joined him for the final 3 ½ mile lap, giving him the boost he needed to finish the race.

The multiple benefits for Cordell of participating in the Ultra far outweighed the toil and sweat.

  • Proceeds from the race were designated for “The Patriot Foundation,” which supports families of wounded or deceased service personnel from Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
  • He had the satisfaction of knowing he was running to encourage myeloma patients to embrace the joys of life.
  • He and his son developed a special bond as they trained together.
  • As a bonus, his golf game improved from so much strength training and improved flexibility!

Most of all, through Cordell’s experience with myeloma and fighting back to good health, he has gained a new appreciation for the importance of “stopping to smell the roses,” staying in good physical shape, and having
the courage to set high goals, no matter the outcome.