Leukemia survivors in race for cancer research


by Sybil Hoffman


Posted on February 22, 2012 at 9:45 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 22 at 3:41 PM

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Two families facing the same medical nightmare are in the race of their lives to beat leukemia.

For Tony and Jack Feiter, running is in their blood.

"I was exercising, running, all the way up to the point when I got sick," Jack said.

Within 24 hours of Jack's leukemia diagnosis, Tony flew to Boston to save his brother's life.

"As soon as I got there, they tested me to see if I would be a match because they knew he was going to need a bone marrow transplant," Tony said.

"The fact that my brother was a match was unbelievably special," Jack said.

Determined not to let leukemia slow him down, Tony got a stationary bike brought to his hospital room and found the strength to take daily walks.

Joshua Gass knows all too well what fighting leukemia takes.

Joshua was diagnosed before his seventh birthday and during his fight, he came down with valley fever.

"They did call us in and say, 'We don't think he's going to make it through the weekend,'" said his mom, Meredith.

Fortunately, Joshua pulled through and since then he hasn't lost a beat.

Now, Joshua is 12 years old and he refuses to stop the fight against cancer.

"If everybody gave a dollar, we could find a cure for cancer," Josh said.

And that's what thousands did recently at the IMS Arizona Marathon.

"He said, 'I feel so sick, I don't think I can do it,' but he kept running," Meredith said. "It was great."

Joshua didn't know it but running along with him was Jack Feiter.

"The fact that the young man that they're kind of sponsoring with the race not just has leukemia but the exact same form of it, it's a little destiny," Tony said.

Destiny or perhaps just a coincidence. No matter what it was, two families facing the same diagnosis will no doubt inspire others to keep on fighting.

"I hope people know there's always a chance for them to get better," Joshua said.

Jack echoes that thought.

"It really has brought everyone closer and gives you this new perspective on life," he said.

For more information on Joshua Gass, visit http://pages.lightthenight.org. For more information about the IMS Arizona Marathon, visit http://thearizonamarathon.com.