Phil Huston, 62 and a non-smoker athlete, was diagnosed with lung cancer quite by accident in June, 2008. He took a bad fall in while trail running and broke several ribs. X-rays to evaluate the damage showed a tumor in his lung. With no symptoms, he would never have known he had cancer. “I call it my God-fall,” he says.
Phil was taken into emergency surgery and the lower lobe of his right lung was removed. The cancer diagnosis also showed that Phil had COPD, a lung disease that often turns into emphysema. In August, just 2 months out of surgery, Phil ran the 5k race at the Breath of Hope Lung Foundation. In September, 90 days out of surgery, he attempted his 12th ascent of Mt Rainer, a 14,495 foot climb.
Phil has always loved outdoor sports. And even after his surgery, he is far more active than most of his peers. He is a rock and ice climber and has climbed mountains, worldwide. He is also a kayaker, cyclist, and skier.
This was Phil’s second brush with death. In 2003, he was climbing in the Canadian Rockies to build endurance to climb Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. He became anemic and through medical tests to find out why, he was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer and given only months to live. His climbing partners went to McKinley without him.
“I went through this horrendous experience and full abdominal surgery but they found no cancer,” he said. Sadly, while he was in the hospital recovering, his fellow climbers were all killed in a tragic plane crash after climbing the mountain.
Phil worked for 20 years as a Twin Cities radio personality. He is currently a broker for Belay Realty.