On Oct. 12, 2014, local dentist Dr. Randall Kam crossed the finish line of his 120th marathon in Long Beach. The following day, his real race began. The race for his life.
On Oct. 13, 2014, Kam discovered his prostate-specific antigen level was elevated. After seeing an urologist, he had a biopsy, which came back malignant.
Kam sought the help of Dr. Nilesh Vora, an oncologist he says saved his life.
"Dr. Vora told me that I should take six months off from running," said Kam.
However, the avid runner refused to let his diagnosis hold him back.
"I had already signed up for the Surf City Marathon on Super Bowl Sunday 2015. I had actually done three marathons after Long Beach, but Surf City was the first under ADT (Androgen Deprivation Therapy)," said Kam, adding, "I had a race bib back!"
Currently, he is raising funds to participate in his fifth New York City Marathon slated to take place Nov. 1. He will run with Team ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.
With 53,000 runners selected from hundreds of thousands of applicants from across the world each year, Kam said, percentage wise, it is harder to get into the NYC Marathon than it is getting into Harvard.
The upcoming marathon will be the 50th for NYC, the fifth for Kam as a runner of Team ZERO, and the fifth year Kam has been living with Stage 4 Prostate Cancer.
Originally, Kam was given a 20 percent chance of survival. Six years later, he is "fighting on." The cancer has since spread to his urinary lymph nodes. He is still on hormone therapy, and every three months he is required to get a shot to stop the testosterone.
On May 29, he will get his next shot ... on his 63rd birthday.
"The main thing is for me to do the marathon, wear a sign on my back that tells my story so that somebody will read it, get checked and hopefully get saved," Kam said.
To date, Kam has run 156 marathons. That means 36 of these marathons were run after his diagnosis. This has been no easy feat due to fatigue and other treatment side effects such as muscle loss and anemia.
It is too difficult for him to run the entire length of marathons; therefore, Kam said he runs/walks.
Said Kam, "At the finish of the OC Marathon in 2015, I was dead last. They were starting to close the marathon down."
Kam and his wife, Gloria, first came to Tehachapi 20 years ago to open a dental practice in addition to his Anaheim office. Since then, the Kams reside part of the week in Tehachapi and the other part at their home in Fullerton. Together, they have five children and two grandchildren.
"My dad taught me a lot about perseverance through running," Lucas Kam said about his father.
At the age of 11, Lucas began running with his dad at his local high school track.
"I've been running ever since," Lucas said. "Running is really hard. But, most of it is mental. You just have to have the right mindset and do what needs to be done. Life is often this way. For example, my dad's battle with cancer. He knew he wanted to give himself the best chances of beating it. So, he did, I think, 16 chemo treatments in a 12-month period and near the end, while still doing treatments, he was running again. That's pretty incredible."
Lucas, who ran with his father at his 150th marathon, said he learned a lot about life from his dad.
Said Lucas, "He really showed me that as with running, battling cancer, and life, you just have to put one foot in front of the other, and you will get to where you want to be."
Destani Boswell has been working for Dr. Kam for the past 17 years as his receptionist.
"We are more like family and often I call him pops (though he hardly ages even with cancer). He has always been such a great motivator in my life to lose weight and become fit," said Boswell.
Since his diagnosis and battling through chemotherapy treatments, Boswell said, her boss has become involved in raising funds for prostate cancer awareness.
Said Boswell, "We have held boutique fundraisers also helping local independent consultants and do raffle basket giveaways to aid in fundraising. He’s very inspirational to people fighting cancer and just people in general to maintain their health and fitness."
Friend Bonnie Woomer said the dentist encouraged her to run with Team ZERO last November in Bakersfield.
"Randy has been an amazing friend, he has been a great inspiration with all the marathons he has run and keeps running. He has been a light in my world with his infectious smile and optimism," said Woomer.
Individuals interested in purchasing tickets for Randall Kam's raffle to raise money for the NYC marathon are encouraged to call his Tehachapi dental office at 822-8223.
Randall also encouraged the public to visit zerocancer.org or check out ZERO’s Connect Facebook page and post queries, solicit opinions, share successes, and mourn those who’ve passed.
Said Randall, "I'm making a ripple. I've always thought that we live in a giant pond, and our deeds or actions spread out from us like a ripple in the water. I want those ripples to impact somebody... you never know."