He was diagnosed with Stage IV Prostate Cancer in 2015. He fought it. Five years on, he walked the Camino with a mission: raise awareness about the disease and encourage men to get screened. Read my conversation with Randall to find out more.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hola amigos, mi nombre es Randy. I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and went to Damien HS, an Irish Christian Brothers school – namesake Saint Damien, the savior of the Lepers on Molokai. Moved to California in 1979 and attended Loyola Marymount University, run by the Jesuits. Stayed in California and attended USC School of Dentistry – not the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela 🙂
In 2014, at a too young age of 57, I had done the Long Beach, CA marathon. I had a PSA test at 555.2 (under 4 is normal) and my journey began.
When did you first hear about the Camino? You had been running marathons for years. So, why did you decide to walk the Camino?
I had seen the movie “The Way” in the early 2000s and was, as many have been, inspired by that poignant story of a Dad walking the Camino in memory of his son.
A dental patient told me that she was going to Madrid to teach English this year and that sparked an idea about doing The Camino. I did some online research, contacted my son, who lives in London, and suggested that we do it together.
I found out that September tends to be cooler and less traveled. I knew that September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month, and my almost five year survival with Stage IV Prostate Cancer was upcoming.
This would be a perfect time for me to walk/bond with my son, spread PCa awareness, and maybe get a man screened. Since the diagnosis in 01/2015, I’ve had signs on my back at marathons (31 so far) telling my saga, urging men to get screened, and more recently – honoring those taken.
Did you prepare either physically or mentally? How?
I ordered hiking shoes online and walked four days per week either with my wife or up at my other dental office for over two months. My wife and I even did a walk, eat, walk to prep for 9 miles to simulate life on The Camino. I knew that marathon fitness (151 so far) would confer a base but I didn’t know how a backpack would affect me. Doing a marathon entails mental and physical discipline and I knew that would really help in the hike.
Tell us about your Camino. How was your experience? Is there any particular anecdote you would like to share?
My son’s new wife and a friend decided to walk with us. The Camino was a wonderful contemplative, spiritual, bonding, and life affirming experience. We disconnected from the real world and connected with nature and each other.
I had a sign en español on my back and that sparked a conversation with numerous Peregrinos. I also placed Blue Ribbons on The Camino and a group of Spaniards in Portomarín asked why. I told them in my so-so Spanish “Tengo cáncer de próstata estadio 4 desde 2015” (I have Stage 4 prostate cancer since 2015). They asked how I was doing and I communicated that estoy bien (I’m OK) and the reason for being out there.
At one point, my son and I had eaten possibly mejillones malos (bad mussels). One of that quartet below had not seen me one day on The Camino and left me an Instagram message Oye, ¿dónde estás? (Hey, where are you?). We caught up with them at another rest/sello/cerveza/tortilla stop and I told them I was fine, toasted them with a beer and took a group pic.
This was such a great experience; strangers on The Camino became friends/supporters all because of The Camino. She messaged me “Me alegro que hayas disfrutado tanto aquí. Ha sido un placer conocerte . Mucha suerte y buen viaje” (I’m glad you have enjoyed it so much here. It has been a pleasure to meet you. Good luck and safe trip).
Did you learn any Spanish prior to the Camino? Do you think this had any impact on your Camino?
I had four years of Spanish in High School and one year in College, but still had to review quite a bit. Spanish for the Camino was so very helpful in refreshing my long unused Spanish skills. Knowing some Spanish is very beneficial on The Camino; you can engage/communicate, and bond better knowing key words or phrases.
- First, some general vocabulary such as greetings and other words you can use in many conversations.
¿Dónde esta?: where is it?
Buenos días: good morning
Buenas tardes: good afternoon/evening
Muchas gracias: thank you very much
Por favor: please
De nada: you’re welcome (after someone says thank you).
Está bien: it is OK/fine.
Claro: of course
- Some food and drink related words too:
Caña: a glass of beer
Vino blanco: white wine
Vino tinto: red wine
Tinto de verano: it literally means summer red and it’s a drink made with red wine and soda; very common in the summer (verano), hence the name.
Pulpo: octopus (and if you want to learn how to prepare it, check this post).
Pimientos de Padrón: Padrón peppers
Bocadillo: sandwich made with baguette-type of bread, not with sliced bread.
Tortilla: Spanish omelette, with eggs and potatoes (you can find the recipe here).
La cuenta: the bill (at a restaurant, mainly).
Tinto de verano
Pimientos de Padrón
More of Randall’s adventure on : #chinononcamino / @Dockam57 on Instagram
I hope that my Camino adventure “makes a ripple” and maybe a man’s life saved.
The Camino is a metaphor for your own life. The Fleetwood Mac song says “Go your own way”. We all have our own “Camino” that we are on; how do we do it, who do we meet and what impact can you make?
Buen Camino, Buen Viaje, y vive una gran vida
PS. I’m signed up for the Long Beach, CA marathon again next month. I’ll celebrate my unofficial five year survival then! (old data said only 28%). Also, doing the New York City Marathon in November (my 4th in a row, raising over $14,000 for ZERO).
To learn more about Randall’s story, you can check these:
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