Race celebrates man working to beat the odds

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – “On your mark, go!”

More than 200 runners and walkers hit the pavement today to rally behind a man they say has made a difference in their lives.

His name is Rob Hecksel and February of this year he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“Rob has always been positive, even through all this he’s been positive and he’s a role model for all of us,” said Maggie Murphy; Retired Lansing Fire Department Captain.

Maggie Murphy worked with Rob at the Lansing Fire Department for more than a dozen years before he retired…so did Monique Drury.

They both say they have a special bond with Rob.

“Rob is, he’s an amazing man he is very spiritual, he’s a great friend, amazing dad, amazing husband,” Lansing Fire Department Former Training Captain Monique Drury stated.

When it came time for Rob to hang-up his fire gear and retire, he went back to school to work towards a degree in social work…but he says his life was unexpectedly put on hold in February.

Reporter: “What went through your mind when you were diagnosed with that?”

Rob: **tears**…”How much hurt it was going to cause my family,” said Rob.

It was a diagnosis Rob never thought he’d face but soon saw a silver lining when a doctor told him he could remove the cancer.

“He wasn’t really direct when he said I’ll take your case and I just needed to hear it…so I said are you saying you’ll take my case and he said yes,” Rob stated.

And Rob got lucky…that’s because according to the American Cancer Society, only 20% of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are given the opportunity to have the cancer removed.

“It was just a profound sense of relief,” Rob added.

For the last several months, Rob has been going through chemotherapy and today’s race was a way friends and family could stand behind him as he continues down the path of recovery.

“Rob you can do this and all the people out here support you and believe in you!” Retired Lansing Fire Department Batallion Chief Marvin Helmker said.

For Rob this isn’t the end…rather another chapter in his life.

“Surviving to me sounds like just getting by and I think it’s important to not just beat it…but to champion it,” Rob stated.

And he has the community to help him through that journey.

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