Ironman competitor Drew Johnston faced the race of his life against leukemia. Now he’s on a mission to help others with cancer.
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[Music Playing] Female Speaker: Drew Johnston has been a competitive athlete since he was a teenager. Drew Johnston: You could probably say it’s in my genes because my grand-dad was a World Cup Soccer player for Scotland. Female Speaker: A tri-athlete he has competed in five so-called Ironman races which involve 140 grueling miles of swimming, biking, and running. It was during one of those races that life would get through an even bigger challenge. Female Speaker: What happened? Drew Johnston: I told people that it was like somebody was hitting me with a baseball bat with every step I took and I fell apart about 15 to 16 miles into the run, I just realized I couldn’t take it anymore, and pull off the course which up until that point was the hardest thing I’d ever done. I thought that my leg was broken. Female Speaker: Weeks later he learned otherwise. Female Speaker: But what was it? Drew Johnston: It was Leukemia CML, Chronic Myeloid or Myelogenous Leukemia. Female Speaker: He was 32-years-old, an Ironman, Ironmen are not supposed to get sick. Drew Johnston: It was a daunting diagnosis and for three months you wonder if you are ever going to even laugh again, and you cannot get the thought of the diagnosis out of your head. Female Speaker: And of course there was also fear. Diana Johnston: Fear is a part of it and from fear I guess you get to acceptance and figuring out how to deal with it. That man working with doctors to take advantage of the latest treatments and applying the same determination that had helped to succeed as an athlete. Drew Johnston: This the fight or the competition of your life, for your life, literally, and there are things that you can do to take your future in your hands. Just start moving, go off for a walk, it’s a lot easier when you’ve got something to focus on than when you don’t. Female Speaker: Drew focused not just on himself but also on his family with one very large lingering question for his wife Diana. Diana Johnston: You think about whether or not Drew is going to be around and what effect that would have on a child but ultimately we wanted to bring another life into the world together. Female Speaker: Entered Drew and Diana’s son Declan. Drew Johnston: He was conceived on a Chemo and there was a time where he was perhaps not even possible, it was one of the most spectacular moments of my life. Female Speaker: With a new family a successful career as a personal trainer and as leukemia in remission life was good. Except for one thing, Drew was determined to complete their race he had been forced to quit three years earlier. Drew Johnston: I told my wife I have to crawl across the line; I am across the line this time. Female Speaker: The triumphant moment he shared with his son was captured by a documentary crew following Drew’s inspirational story. Drew Johnston: I can’t articulate what it meant to me, I had him in my arms and so many different things, a sense of accomplishment beyond words. Drew would go on to compete in more races, but for him now it’s not so much about what he is accomplished. Drew Johnston: It shows people what they are capable of, it doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is, I mean what do you want to do with life, you can do it. Because Drew Johnston believes anyone can be an Ironman. Drew Johnston: Obviously everybody is going to get trump balls, but it’s not to say you can’t still knock them out of the bar.