South Knox Marine competes in Race Against Cancer

Sandra ClarkOur Town Health

Nick Parker, 53, is a U.S. Marine (retired), but you know what they say about Marines.

Parker just finished Covenant Health’s Race Against Cancer. His “Team Hope” raised some money, of course, but for Parker it means, “I’m back!”

He underwent extensive treatment at Thompson Cancer Survival Center and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.

After eight rounds of chemo and 30 sessions of proton therapy, Parker underwent a full esophagectomy – removal of the esophagus – in April 2023.

Nick runs and bikes; he’s basically healthy. “I don’t get sick, other than Parkinson’s and cancer,” he jokes.

Diagnosed in 2014 with Parkinson’s disease, he received a device implanted in his brain to ease the tremors that accompany the degenerative disease.

Thanks to this technology, the tremors have ceased. However, it was just days after receiving the implant that he got another staggering diagnosis: esophageal cancer.

His medical oncologist was David Chism, MD. His radiation therapist was Ryan Grover, MD. His surgeons were Michael Antiporda, MD, surgery specialist; and David Graham, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon.

“We are just so lucky to have these physicians here locally, and I know my God worked through their expert hands to treat me, which was a miracle.”

Nick and Trina Parker have been married for 30 years. He calls her “a source of unwavering support.”

Race Against Cancer is an annual fundraiser for Thompson Cancer Survival Center’s foundation. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. All walks of life are affected, and many people need help with transportation, medications that aren’t covered by insurance and more.

Nick says, “Life isn’t about you, it’s about paying it forward. And that’s what I intend to do with Team Hope.” He plans to be back to form for next year’s race and to grow his team. “I’m getting my doctor to run with me next year.”

He says, “You can’t quit or give up on life. My motto is, end every sentence with a comma, not an exclamation point, because it’s not the end.”

Covenant Health provided information for this report. This writer talked with Nick Parker and plans to join Team Hope for next year’s race. Since its inception 29 years ago, the race has raised more than $7.4 million for cancer education and care in East Tennessee. Want in? Start now. Registration for 2024 is not up yet, but this site has the course map and other info.


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