Neuroendocrine carcinoma patient runs Ultramarathon to fund neuroendocrine cancer research

In 2018, at the age of 33, Bill Thach found himself navigating multiple challenges. He was a new father, recently laid off after a company reorganization, and experiencing alarming and mysterious health symptoms.

Despite seeing blood in his stool, his immediate concerns revolved around securing a new job and health insurance. He postponed seeking medical attention until he secured employment, but the issue persisted. After consulting with his doctor, who initially suspected hemorrhoids, Bill underwent blood work and a CT scan, which yielded inconclusive results. But, as someone living with spondyloarthritis, an autoimmune condition, he was vigilant about his health and wanted more answers.

When the bleeding persisted, Bill sought further evaluation, eventually leading to a colonoscopy. The results revealed a six-centimeter grade 3 stage 3 neuroendocrine carcinoma (NEC) on his rectum. Drawing on his background in medical sales, Bill recognized the importance of seeking treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas.

Navigating frustrating hurdles and insurance battles, Bill started treatment under the care of Dr. Arvind Dasari. He underwent an extensive 18-hour surgery, enduring the removal of his rectum, prostate, bladder, Seminole vesicular parts of his liver, and pelvis reconstruction using his abdominal tissue. Subsequent radiation therapy targeted the margins of the tumor.

Despite his journey’s physical and emotional toll, Bill remained committed to his health, adopting a rigorous plant-based diet and maintaining his fitness regimen. He tackled grueling chemotherapy sessions with remarkable resilience while embarking on regular long-distance runs and bike rides, participating in Ultra-distance cycling challenges.

Before his diagnosis, Bill was your average carnivore bodybuilder who occasionally overindulged with processed foods and meats. 

“Making mindful changes to my lifestyle, including drastically better eating habits, has kept me strong through my ongoing treatments and training. These treatments are no walk in the park, so making significant lifestyle changes while enduring the treatment is challenging.”

About NECs: The majority of NECs (91%) are located in the lungs. Extrapulmonary NECs, which occur outside the lungs, are considerably less common, accounting for only 9% of cases. Approximately 37% of the tumors within this subgroup arise in the gastrointestinal tract. The five-year survival rate for those with extrapulmonary NECs is generally poor, often less than one year, and varies depending on the stage of the disease and the primary location of the tumor. Currently, treatment options are limited, underscoring the urgent need for more research to enhance our understanding of NECs and improve treatment strategies.

In May 2024, amidst his eighth line of treatment and fourth clinical trial, Bill’s focus remains unwavering: advocating for advancements in neuroendocrine carcinoma research.

With World NET Cancer Day approaching on November 10, 2024, Bill will run a self-supported Ultramarathon to raise funds for neuroendocrine carcinoma research at NETRF. Kicking off his training, Bill ran a half marathon on his birthday, June 2nd. His upcoming races include

  • July 27th: Sloth Runners Race (Half Marathon)
  • September 28: The Trailway Trail Race (Full Marathon)
  • October 19: Oktoberfest Trail Run (Full Marathon)

“Every day is a triumph over this disease. Essentially, I want to help prevent others from having to suffer from this disease and not getting the attention and the care that they need,” he explains.

Join Bill by making a gift to support his $10,000 goal, which will benefit neuroendocrine carcinoma cancer research at NETRF.