When Clay Treska completed the Ironman Triathlon just 10 months after being diagnosed with stage-four terminal testicular cancer, his story inspired countless people around the world.
The Marine veteran is now in remission and still continues to challenge himself as a full-time student at San Diego State University and intern at UCSD Medical Center.
NBC 7 caught up with Treska and found his current mission may be the most meaningful one yet.
When Treska isn’t studying or working, he visits cancer patients throughout San Diego to help them and their families through the process. From talking finances to different cancer treatments, Treska becomes their advocate.
When Treska was battling cancer a few years ago, he and a small group of friends came up with the idea of having him train for an Ironman competition. They called themselves Team Treska. When the cancer treatment intensified, so did the pressure on their friendship. Treska says there was a period of time he went into a state of delirium and/or psychosis.
“All I really noticed is before that started I had this team and core friends that were supporting me and by the end of the month, they were gone,” he said. “I wanted to die to be honest with you. I truly gave up.”
“When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you have this certain percentage of people who in your life fall off the radar. That’s really not uncommon,” Treska told NBC 7.
Treska now dedicates his life to cancer patient advocacy. He hopes it becomes more prevalent in the community.
Currently, he’s helping the Garmo family. Six-year-old Julia Garmo is battling an aggressive form of neuroblastoma. She has a life-threatening tumor pushing on her spinal cord. Although the disease is rare, this is her family’s second go-around. Julia’s older brother, Isaac, was diagnosed with the same disease when he was just a baby. Julia’s father, David, talked to NBC 7 about what it’s like having Treska’s help during Julia’s treatment.
“I never thought about it when we were experiencing it with Isaac, but now having it with Julia I can't imagine not having him around,” he said.
“You can't get a better connection than that. Just knowing someone went through it. It's so hard when you're in a situation like this...you just want someone to relate to,” said Anita Garma, Julia’s mother.
To learn more about Julia’s treatment and how you can help, visit www.juliasjourney.org.