SCOTTSDALE, AZ — “It’s such a huge part of your life to do something like this, so it’s so emotional,” said Chuck Keels through tears as he watched a video on his laptop.
On Monday, Keels reflected on the moment when his journey to inspire those battling cancer arrived at a triumphant end.
“Two and a half months with two-stage four cancer people, going through this, there were times in the ride where I didn’t know if we were going to finish it or not,” said Keels.
Keels is a stage four prostate cancer survivor and wife Hannah is in the midst of her own fight with stage four breast cancer.
“We started the Get Up and Live Foundation here at home first and then we started coaching it because we wanted other people to get off the couch and get out of the bed, to begin living again,” said Chuck Keels back in March.
The two now join podcasts, hold virtual support groups, and provide a plethora of resources on their website.
They work to spread the message that life doesn’t end with a difficult diagnosis, leaning on each other to provide tips and advice they’ve discovered throughout their battles.
“We can be a victim in our situation, or we can be victorious, so this is really pushing ourselves, to go across the country, while I’m in active treatment,” said Hannah Keels in March.
At the time, Chuck Keels was set to embark on a 75-day bike ride from San Diego to St Augustine Florida, tailed in an RV by Hannah.
Along the way, the two would spread the message of their nonprofit Living Hope Cancer Foundation challenging those with cancer to redefine what it means to live with such a diagnosis.
Through rain and sun, across eight beautiful states, they connected and shared their story with anyone who would listen.
“Because Hannah has lost her hair due to chemo, women would come over to her and say, 'Are you dealing with cancer?' And Hannah would say, 'Yes I am,' and they would say, 'So am I,'” said Chuck Keels. “And we were sitting there having a discussion with people all across the country, with them or about someone they love going through cancer.”
For 55 days, the ride couldn’t have gone smoother, but that would all change on day 56.
“Once the ambulance got there, they actually cut my riding gear off of me to put me on a stretcher,” said Chuck Keels while holding up a shredded jersey.
While riding through Louisiana, his wheel got caught in a cattle grate, sending him face-first into the pavement.
He’d suffer numerous injuries including a concussion and a broken nose. But nine days later and more determined than ever, he was back on his bike.
“I told Hannah that first day in the ER, if I can physically get back on that bike, I’m gonna finish this ride,” said Chuck Keels.
A little more than 20 days later, they’d reach the coast of Florida.
Welcomed by cheering friends, family and strangers, it was an accomplishment truly reflecting their motto to get up and live.
“We’ve accomplished so much more than we thought we would,” said Chuck Keels. “We’ve been able to inspire so many that life doesn’t end with a diagnosis. That you don’t know what your limits are until you push them. Most of all, our foundation’s visibility has grown so much and that simply means we can help more people.”
This article was written by Cameron Polom for KNXV.