It was late 2014 when we first learned of an inspiring survival story from one young man’s journey at Levine Cancer Institute—that of (then 17-year-old) Chase Mahrlig. Living a carefree teenage life up to that point, Chase’s whole world—and outlook on life—changed when he learned he had advanced testicular cancer with tumors present in his abdomen and lungs. Thankfully, after many rounds of chemotherapy and several surgical procedures, Chase was rid of cancer, and received a clean bill of health from his physician and care team at Levine Cancer Institute. One fundraising initiative that contributed to Chase’s care, by impacting the availability of the latest technology, cutting-edge treatments, and patient support services that Levine Cancer Institute offers, is the “Keep Pounding Fund“.
In the past two years Chase’s cancer journey has taken an inspiring turn. To give back to Levine Cancer Institute (LCI) and support patients who, much like himself, receive life-changing cancer care and support services at LCI, Chase established his own fundraising initiative as well: the Cancer Chase 5K. The annual event held in Fort Mill, SC, raises additional funds for research aimed at advancing the Institute’s efforts to better prevent, detect, and treat cancer in adults and adolescents.
The 2016 Cancer Chase 5K took place on Saturday, October 15, in Fort Mill, SC and was a great success, raising $6,000 dollars to support Levine Cancer Institute.
From the very first Cancer Chase 5K, Chase’s purpose for the event has been clear: “Because of philanthropy,” he shared, “Carolinas HealthCare System is expanding its resources to fight cancer and bring national-level expertise to communities throughout the Carolinas. [Donors’] support of this event will directly benefit these programs which help so many people across the Carolinas.”
Recently, we were fortunate to reconnect with Chase and hear how he—now a young adult and college student—has been impacted by his cancer journey and the Cancer Chase 5K over the past few years.
(Foundation) Q: Chase, you shared that your experience in facing cancer drastically changed your outlook on the world; you’ve dedicated your life to helping other fight cancer. Tell us about how the Cancer Chase 5K has impacted your life and allowed you to touch the lives of others?
(Chase) A: The Cancer Chase 5K is a way for me to connect with and support those affected by cancer. The event has provided funding towards cancer research and I hope that my story provides hope to those battling cancer. Hosting this race gives me joy in being able to give back to people battling cancer. As a fellow cancer survivor, I feel a deep connection with fellow survivors.
Q: Have there been any moments from the past two Cancer Chase 5K events that have been especially memorable to you? For example, has the Cancer Chase allowed you to connect with other survivors in a meaningful way? And, how has the success of these events made you feel about the importance of fundraising?
A: At the first Cancer Chase I met a little boy whose name was also Chase. He was currently battling cancer and his family mentioned that he looked up to me upon hearing my story because we both had the same name. I was very touched to hear from them about how my story was able to inspire Chase. The success of the first Cancer Chase 5K showed me how much can be accomplished through fundraising. It also showed me how many people are willing to support a cause if it’s brought to their attention.
Q: How have you stayed in touch with your Levine Cancer Institute care team? Have they too been a part of the Cancer Chase 5K?
A: I stay in touch with my oncologist, Dr. Burgess. I see him every so often for checkups and we communicate over email. He graciously donates time out of his weekend to come out and speak at the race, for which I am very thankful.
Q: Looking back on your time at Levine Cancer Institute, what are you most grateful from that experience?
A: I’m most grateful for my amazing support team. My family was there for me every step of the way. My Dad took a lot of time off work to be in the hospital with me and at home. My mom was my biggest advocate for making sure I received the best treatment. It was comforting to know I was in good hands at Levine Cancer Institute and Dr. Burgess did an amazing job of answering any questions I had while outlining a clear treatment plan. Lastly, my friends who would come visit helped brighten my days during treatment at Levine and helped my time at Levine seem more normal.
Q: You mentioned before that you are interested in going to medical school someday. Where are you today?
A: I’m currently studying chemistry on a pre-med track at Emory University. My battle with cancer has sparked a deep interest in the field of oncology and cancer research. Through the race and my treatment, I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet many people affected by cancer and hear their stories. This has inspired me to get involved with cancer research, be it reading journal articles or philanthropy.
We thank you, Chase, for sharing your remarkable journey with us, and for your strength, generosity, and continued leadership of the Cancer Chase 5K in support of Levine Cancer Institute.