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Dave's Blog

“It’s not the mountain we conquer...”

Dave Clark

This past Sunday I hiked Hunter Mountain via Becker Hollow Trail in the Catskills Mountains.  Hunter Mountain stands at 4,040 feet and is rated as a “difficult” hike.  While filming a video in September (more on that later), I met Ron Rosen who interviewed me for the shoot.  Ron and I got along right away.  Ron had made mention that it would be great to hike together- that’s all it took to get us into the mountains just a few short weeks later.

Ron had said he wanted a mountain experience for his first hike, so why not the second highest peak in the Catskills for your introductory hike?  Despite the difficult climb, Ron hung in there, no quitting although many would have bailed as the weather worsened and the climb became more difficult.  He crushed it.  No, it wasn’t an Everest or K2 climb but it’s still a mountain...Sir Edmund Hilliary said “it’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves”.  Ron conquered some things the other day and he isn’t the only one, I did as well.  Although I climbed Hunter Mountain once before, with each mountain I climb I conquer something, something not easily put into words.  Perhaps cancer is like that mountain and with each summit I feel strong- at least for that moment.  Climbs are tough, cancer is tough- I’m up for both.  What song was running though my head during the climb?  Tom Petty’s classic  “I Won’t Back Down”.  Well said Mr. Petty.


‘Dave’s Story’

Dave Clark

Thank you to all the amazing people who helped bring this video together; a special thank you to Hackensack Meridian Health and the physicians/nurses and team members who helped save my life.  A sincerest thank you


Dave Clark

In addition to having a touch of lung cancer, adrenal insufficiency, pancreatic insufficiency and a few other insufficiencies, I have self-diagnosed myself with a case of wanderlust that seems to only be worsening with age.  Wanderlust is defined as ‘a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about’...all I know is that I have it bad, really bad.  I promised my docs that I wouldn’t skydive for a few months as I recover from an injury but no one said I couldn’t try mountain biking- my new hobby that seems to only be intensifying the wanderlust that keeps pulling me to the mountains,  The big question now is do I climb or ride up the mountain...I wonder if you can do both?



Dave Clark

Last week I turned 54 years of age...there was a time that I had thought fifty-four was old and I wasn’t sure that I liked the idea of the inevitability of gettting older; the fact is I’m doing more now than I ever have (I’m just doing them a bit slower and it takes a bit longer to recover, fine, it takes a lot longer to recover!).  How can I be upset about getting ‘old’ when there are angels like this I get to spend time with?   I’m looking forward to what this year will bring; new stories, new adventures, new experiences; there will be highs and there may be some lows but it’s all a part of the bigger picture we call life.  I’m looking forward to getting old and to seeing ‘55’!



Health Monitor Network

Dave Clark

Thank you to all the amazing folks at the Health Monitor Network; Kathleen and John, thank you for providing the forum to tell my story. Your professionalism and compasssion is/was very much appreciated. Brian, great photos and thank you for skydiving with me- a day I will never forget! My only hope is that this article may find its way into the hands of someone who may need to see and hear that anything is possible.


"All who wander..."

Dave Clark

Over the past two to three weeks I've been given some gentle and not so gentle nudges to resume posting on my blog.  As of late folks haven't been shy about sharing their opinions, the general tone and vibe being "I have a loved one with cancer that was following you- you helped them and now you've stopped, why?"  Gulp.  "People with and without cancer were identifying with you- I get that you stepped away for a bit but it's kinda selfish you stopped- people do care about you, at least let people know how you're doing".  Double gulp.  Honesty can sting sometimes.

I guess I could use the easy excuse (which in part has some truth) that the article, CBS piece with Scott Rapaport and Stephanie Stahl said everything that I set out to say with regards to managing cancer.  The excuses could extend to "I've been working a lot" and "I have the worst laptop ever...".  I suppose I could continue to list the excuses.

The truth is I was wrestling a bit with my diagnosis and trying to find my way through some challenging times.  Despite everything going very well with immunotherapy the words 'non-cureable' weighed heavily on me. For those out there who are trying to manage a difficult diagnosis I think you'll know what I mean when I say that I was 'stuck in my own head'.  I thought that I had my fight with cancer figured out- as it turns out I had lost my way.  It took a few weeks for me to realize that I manage my disease best when I am helping others.  It's easy to fall into an egocentric trap when your 'sick' (which is what I did) but that isn't the answer- helping others is much better for the soul.  If I let anyone down my sincerest apologies..."all who wander are not lost", JRR Tolkien.  No doubt that I was wandering a bit; we are all human.  Peace, Dave


Dave Clark

First time using my phone to post so please forgive and typos.  Haven't been on social media for a few weeks- I think my last post was after the article.  Why?  For me that article said 'it all'- I think it was beautifully written and that it captured my thoughts of hope, of love, perseverance and of family (love the pic of my family in that article).  The support and well wishes I've received has been tremendous however where are the lung cancer advocates???  I've been told that no one wants to talk about lung cancer and the media is disinterested?  Nothing could be further from the truth in my experience; so many people have commented so positively on my efforts and of those journalists who have helped tell my story.  From the lung cancer community...crickets.  No one wants to talk about lung cancer? is someone, CBS NY is many positive comments from the 'non-cancer' community but again, crickets from the lung cancer community.  I bet if I posted negative 'crap' about 'f cancer', 'cancer sucks', 'no one cares', 'woe is me' that my ramblings would get a million likes...just an observation.  I haven't 'opened up' to get 'likes' but it is telling that there are very, very few comments, likes or interest from the lung cancer community but much interest from others.

Today I'm going to be walking in the woods post immunotherapy and I will be smiling my butt off that I am still alive and kicking...maybe I'll hear some crickets while on my walk.  

We have your back.

Dave Clark

I’m frequently asked how I can be so positive in light of my diagnosis; in other words don’t I get “down”?  Don’t I have “bad days”?  I get asked these questions from a lot of different folks but I seem to get asked this more from people with cancer or other chronic disease- almost as if they are doing something wrong if they are not “positive” all the time.  While I am generally positive and an optimist I don’t want to mislead anyone; yea- I have bad days.  Occasionally I have really bad days… like this past Sunday. 

I’m not sure ‘why’ but it was just one of those days where having cancer sucked…started with a home project putting a TV stand together, no big deal right?  One of the side effects of chemo is neuropathies or numbness in your fingers and toes.  I can’t tell you how many tiny little screws I dropped over and over and over…then the cramps in my foot, just one thing after another… a project that should have taken an hour took more than four hours.  Are you kidding me I thought?  I was feeling a bit sorry for myself when I received the following text from Tracy Connellan (am awesome paramedic!)- “Jake, Mike and I are going to run the Marine Corps half in support of you in May…Team Clark”.  These folks are having shirts made in support and running a half marathon in Virginia- the idea brought about by a 16 year old named Jake who I had only met once prior.  At one point during the exchange of texts with Tracy, Jake sent me the following “Hi Dave, we have your back”; such a simple comment that meant so much, really a very powerful statement.  Jake- you have no idea how awesome it was to hear that and to know that you were thinking of me-thank you!   Jake, Mike and Tracy- crush the half!!!    My day only got better from there...thank you Team Clark!                    

Thank you Tiare!- and People Magazine!!!

Dave Clark

Day two post immunotherapy and all is well…our fingers, toes and a few other things are crossed hoping for success with this new medication.  Turns out I have a form of lung cancer that accounts for less than 7% of lung cancers- go figure, I don’t seem to do anything by the book.  A sincere thank you to the amazing folks at the Abramson Cancer Center- a world class group!

What can I say…so many folks have helped me on my journey, I am really very fortunate.  A sincere thank you to Tiare Dunlap from People magazine!  People published an on-line article about my story; Tiare captured perfectly the message that I wanted to send- a humble message of hope, family, and of love.  Tiare articulated beautifully the things that I think and that I feel; thank you Tiare for all that you have done to raise awareness and advocate for lung cancer patients- I am so grateful, thank you!  

One amazing week...

Dave Clark

In January 2015 I was first diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (1.29.15).  In January 2016 I found out the lung cancer returned.  In February 2015 I had my first lung surgery.  In February 2016 I had my second lung surgery.  I started chemotherapy in March 2015.  In March 2016 I found out the chemotherapy isn’t working.   I suppose one could consider this chronology of events unfortunate or at the very least sadly ironic however I don’t see it that way- quite to the contrary; I had a pretty amazing week.

So how could I still have had an amazing week?  I found out this past Thursday that I am eligible for a clinical trial of a new immunotherapy drug; I enrolled in the trial (I am number 21 of 42 patients to be enrolled) and I am to receive my first dose of the drug this week at the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia.  As I understand it 5 or 6 months ago this medication would not have been available to me.  Hope continuous to bring my family and I strength; I am ready for round 2.  Hope is not denial and hope has not failed me.

The second amazing thing?  Two young ladies named Ashley and Courtney; I first met these two amazing young ladies when they were in middle school.  Friends of Matt (aka ‘Biggs’) they would spend a great deal of time at our house with the rest of the ‘gang’; a group of my sons  friends who at times were loud, sometimes obnoxious, sometimes challenging but always  entertaining and good for a laugh- fun, crazy kids who made afternoons by the pool a good time.  Back then I tried to be a role model; I wanted to set an example but I also wanted to be fun to be around; the fact of the matter is I was, and am still as much of a kid as they were.  Fast forward- as the years passed I haven’t seen these ‘kids’ much.  Kids grow up, life gets busy and time passes.  This past Sunday Ashley and Courtney did a 50 flight of stairs benefit climb in my name to raise money for lung disease.  Regarding Ash and Court…these two young ladies showed they are strong beautiful young women who could have been anywhere doing anything other than this climb- they are kind and thoughtful and they have grown into amazing women.  I would like to think that maybe, just maybe I did something right back then for these young ladies (and maybe some of the other kids) to think of me years later…I think that and I smile.       

My story.

Dave Clark

It occurred to me this weekend that I haven’t been on social media in a few weeks and I haven’t updated my web site either.  No doubt I’ve been busy- surgery, recovery, climbing, conference in Vegas, hiking in Death Valley and Red Rocks Canyon, work all week then resuming chemotherapy last week…things get busy.  Truth is I found myself in a position that I needed to take a step back and re-evaluate my goals with this blog and social media. 

Yes, I knowingly put myself in the position to be publicly open about lung cancer however I did not realize the attention this “story” would attract and admittedly I wasn’t prepared for the attention.  It has occurred to me that I have become the “story” when my intention was for lung cancer to be the story; I simply wanted to be the messenger.  As it turns out I’ve found you cannot separate the two- I am the story, or the main character in the story as well as the messenger.  I am extremely happy with all the media attention that my story has received and for those who wrote the articles and conducted the interviews however it is unsettling to see in print the words “terminal” and “dying” referring to you.  I had to take a step back and re-evaluate how I want my message portrayed.

Are the words “non-curable” and “terminal” accurate?  Unfortunately as it stands now, yes- treatment is limited BUT this is not MY message.  The message is not one of despair or sadness but one of hope, strength, and determination.  I have multiple interviews scheduled in the next weeks and I will go back to telling my story- a story of hope, family, the love of the outdoors and a story not of one person struggling with lung cancer but a community struggling with lung cancer.               

Because I can today...

Dave Clark

I’m not quite accustomed to being the “center of attention” like I’ve been this week.  With the attention comes a mix and flood of emotions.  I am very thankful for all the love and support however I have to admit there were times this week that I secretly wished the attention was for climbing Everest and not because I am climbing with lung cancer.    

With all the attention this week I have had to remind myself to stay grounded, humble and appreciative.  My goals remain the same; to raise awareness about lung cancer, to advocate, to raise money for research and above all, for all cancer patients, to feel a sense of peace and hope.  I have heard this week “you are so brave Dave”- fact of the matter is that I don’t think I am brave; I think what I have is hope.  I am not any stronger that you…

I have also heard from a few folks with cancer “I can’t climb mountains like you”- we all have our own mountains and our own individual challenges.  Next weekend my mountain will be Whiteface Mountain or Giant Mountain in the ADK (I hope) - for others it may be walking out to the yard and feeling the warmth of the sun on their/your face.  For someone in pain or for someone without hope, for someone feeling alone or despair the walk to the front yard is as much of a challenge as any mountain to be climbed.  I write this post with humility and with the realization that I may need to read these same words that I have written next year to ‘inspire’ myself to go to the yard and feel the sun on my face…   

What a week...

Dave Clark

March 4th- Matt and I get the bright idea to drive to the Adirondacks Friday night instead of Saturday morning.  At about 1:30 am we decide it’s about time to get some sleep…in a parking lot adjacent to a D&D in Lake George, we’ve made better decisions (it was convenient when we needed coffee at 5am when hypothermia started to set in, - 5 degrees).  I thought my truck would be warmer, it wasn’t.  Maybe next time we’ll arrange for better accommodations.

March 5th- Matt and I summited Cascade and Porter Mountains; to say it was an amazing day would be an understatement, the day was perfect.  Three of the 46ers have been summited- we are on our way.  My Fitbit registered 22,890 steps with 265 floors climbed- a bit over 6.4 miles, not bad for  having lung surgery three weeks prior- I felt good climbing.  The temp started at 5 degrees, minus 4 wind-chill, a perfect day in the “Daks”.  I think Giant Mountain may be next.

March 7th- thank you to Jerry Carino and the Asbury Park Press for a great article and for their support in raising awareness about lung cancer.  Jerry, thank you for your professionalism and providing an environment that I could speak openly about lung ca- I am very thankful to you and to the APP!!!

March 8th- thank you to Scott Rapoport and to the team at CBS 2 New York!  A story aired tonight on CBS 2 which focused on my fight to survive lung cancer.  Scott asked pertinent, very straight forward and meaningful questions; we had open and honest dialogue and it was captured on film…I think my wife and children will look back on this footage a few years from now and they will smile (I hope I am with them!).  My granddaughters will see this story in a few years and they will realize that they are so precious to me; this is truly very important to me.  For those with cancer or those who have loved ones with cancer I hope the message that you felt in this story is one of hope.  Thank you Scott for your sincerity and ability to ask the difficult question with empathy.  

To climb or not to climb...

Dave Clark

I was scheduled to go to the Adirondacks this weekend and continue on the quest to tag the Adirondack 46ers.  When I look at the variables involved I have to question if trying to summit Cascade and Porter mountains is the prudent thing to do.  On one hand Cascade and Porter are not the 46ers most aggressive climbs; in fact they are considered some of the easier summits to tag.  The conditions are moderately icy, little to no snow is expected (although that can quickly change on the mountain), the wind-chill is predicted to be minus 2 to minus 8 with the temperature not leaving the single digits.  By the time Matt and I are to climb I will only be 22 days post-op and only out of the hospital 16 days.  I haven’t been able to do cardio until two days ago…after all they did take a large piece of my lung out (give me a break on the cardio- I was tired!).  The remaining variable is that I have to be home Sunday which means a drive 5 ½ hours to Keene Valley Friday night, get to the climbing area about 3am Saturday, sleep in the truck until 7am (it’s a rather nice and surprisingly comfortable truck), climb a few peaks and drive home by 2am Sunday morning?  There is only one thing to do after weighing these variables…go climb Cascade and Porter and see what happens!!!  Stay tuned…it’s all good!

A fox...

Dave Clark

So I get up this morning- not depressed but just ‘kinda blah’, not ‘feelin’ it’ if you will.  I put my cold coffee in the microwave and heat it up.  Take a sip- cold, huh.  I put the coffee back in the microwave, sit down, take another sip- still cold.  Really- what the hell?  So this is how we’re rollin’ today- ok.  Put the coffee in the microwave a THIRD time…this time I watched the coffee go around and around in the microwave for a full 60 seconds- tasted it, burnt my lip.  Yup, microwave is working…well ‘good morning to you’ I thought.  As it turns out I hadn’t put the coffee in the microwave the first two times.  Ugh.  I stared out the back window into the woods wondering if this is ‘chemo brain’ or simply the result of me being distracted this morning.  Today is one of those days that I just wished I didn’t have cancer…then a fairly unusual site.  I am looking into a forest clearing through the kitchen window and I see the most beautiful grey fox.  I’ve seen her before but infrequently- she is an elusive creature.  The sun was shining brightly on her full grey coat, her tail thick and bushy as she surveys her surroundings.  Within seconds she darts off into the woods just after allowing me only seconds but long enough that I could admire her beauty…I needed that this morning- a brief yet beautiful synergy with nature.      

February 28, 2016

Dave Clark

So I get up this morning- not depressed but just ‘kinda blah’, not ‘feelin’ it’ if you will.  I put my cold coffee in the microwave and heat it up.  Take a sip- cold, huh.  I put the coffee back in the microwave, sit down, take another sip- still cold.  Really- what the hell?  So this is how we’re rollin’ today- ok.  Put the coffee in the microwave a THIRD time…this time I watched the coffee go around and around in the microwave for a full 60 seconds- tasted it, burnt my lip.  Yup, microwave is working…well ‘good morning to you’ I thought.  As it turns out I hadn’t put the coffee in the microwave the first two times.  Ugh.  I stared out the back window into the woods wondering if this is ‘chemo brain’ or simply the result of me being distracted this morning.  Today is one of those days that I just wished I didn’t have cancer…then a fairly unusual site.  I am looking into a forest clearing through the kitchen window and I see the most beautiful grey fox.  I’ve seen her before but infrequently- she is an elusive creature.  The sun was shining brightly on her full grey coat, her tail thick and bushy as she surveys her surroundings.  Within seconds she darts off into the woods just after allowing me only seconds but long enough that I could admire her beauty…I needed that this morning- a brief yet beautiful synergy with nature.      

Dave Clark

On one hand it seems like a long time since I was first diagnosed but in reality it has only been 13 months.  In the days following the initial diagnosis I would write down spontaneous notes of how I felt at any given time.  The ‘diary’ was a new concept to me (really???  I need to write down my thoughts and feelings? - for those who know me you may stop chuckling now!).  I must admit it does help to write your thoughts down- burdens are relieved; cathartic in a strange way.  Anyhow, I would put these notes into my cell- the notes spontaneous and random; I simply wrote what I was feeling at that particular moment in time.  While looking through my phone today I came across this reflection…

2.17.15- “It can be interesting to see what you find when all of the materialistic facade is removed and all you have to look at is yourself; your relationships, your values, the bumps and bruises, the imperfections, the vulnerabilities- the world that you created…there is much I can learn and perhaps this is a new opportunity, perhaps a chance to learn and grow and change, an opportunity afforded to those directly facing their own mortality.  It would be such a waste to not grasp onto and acknowledge this part of life- I hope that I am strong enough to do so”.

We are all so much stronger than we know.     


February 22, 2016

Dave Clark

I read this yesterday on Cure Today ( “it takes real guts to get up in the morning when you know your statistical probability of surviving the next five years is a dismal one percent, the figure given for stage 4 lung cancer”- Linnea Olson.  Someday I would like to meet Linnea- she seems amazing.

Linnea’s statement has been rolling and spinning around my head for the past 24 hours; to see this in print brings home the stark reality that if I lived my life according to statistics that I have used, best case scenario, 22% of my allotted time left.  I must admit that my first reaction reading this was to feel nauseous…there are times the reality of it all can bring a tear and there are other times it is all too surreal.  I try not to think about statistics and survival curves too much but they are a piece of my reality.  So why keep going?  Because there is no other choice; you either stop, stay still or you move forward.  So why keep going?  This past week when I was in the hospital I recounted a story to my wife- a juvenile prank that defined then, and now, my sense of humor and my desire to push boundaries (there is NO way I’m putting the story in print!).  Here I am in a hospital bed post-op, a chest tube sticking out of my chest, supplemental oxygen in my nose, two IV’s infusing in my arm and despite the intense pain and my squeezing a pillow against my chest in an effort to mitigate the sharp stabbing pain…Lisa and I could NOT stop laughing!- we could not stop laughing for what seemed an eternity.  I had to request pain medication.  So why keep going?  For everyone I guess the answer is different and complex but simply put for me it is to love and to laugh. 

Thank you to everyone who has donated to the Lung Cancer Alliance in my name!!!  Peace.

February 19, 2016

Dave Clark

Hard to believe but this time last year the cancer diagnosis was still so new…so raw after only having days to digest the reality of it all.  One year ago to the day I was receiving my first round of radiation therapy- the first of many therapies to come.  I was unsure at that time if I would be around in a year- that was a tough week but here I am and I am doing pretty well.  I had surgery Friday to remove another lung tumor- the surgery went well however the post-op course was a bit rough…suffice it to say I am glad to be home! Next climb is tentatively scheduled for 3.5.16.

Cancer changes things.  I knew the moment that I was diagnosed that things would never be the same (and oddly enough it turns out that is ok).   I knew there were going to be tough times on the horizon and there have been very difficult days.  What I did not expect is the abundance of true caring, empathy, concern and love that I’ve been shown.  We often don’t see the ‘good’ in the world and the good that people do.  I can tell you firsthand there is a lot of love and positive vibes out there.  So what has changed in me with cancer?- for starters I am letting people help and I am ‘allowing’ them to care.  I am more humble and more open to the kindness that people want to share- maybe not such a ‘tough guy’ anymore (and that is ok as well).

I’ve been asked a few times this week why am I “putting it all out there”?  It might be easier to state what I am not looking to do…my blogs and social media posts are not about me per se; it’s about the fight against lung cancer.  I just happen to be the main character in the story.  I am looking to get rid of the lung cancer stigma, to raise lung cancer awareness and advocacy and yup- raise money.  With regards to raising money part I want all to know that not one penny of the money raised is for me…my request is that any and all donations go directly to the Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA).  In no way do I want nor do I intend to make a personal profit off cancer- that I would find distasteful.  Not a penny of any dollar raised is for me.  Again, I don’t want to make a ‘profit’ off cancer I simply want to contribute to finding a cure and in this I do have a vested interest.  Finding a cure costs money and that is the reality.  Not everyone raising money in the name of cancer does so for the general good.  Look deeply into folks motivations before you donate money and if their efforts seem self-motivated then they probably are…

If someone is thoughtful enough to donate a few of their hard earned dollars then I want everyone with lung cancer to benefit from those dollars and the generosity and kindness from which those dollars came.  Peace.        

February 10, 2016

Dave Clark

How to “F” cancergot your attention? 

I’ve said before I am not an expert on lung cancer but a few things that have seemed to work for me over the past 13 months to help me “F” it;

Keep your friends close.  Keep your family closer.

Have faith in your higher power and faith in your treatment team.

Keep as fit as you can and your food as close to the ground as you can get it (stay far away from processed stuff).  Staying active can be unbelievably challenging when the fatigue sets in but I think the body is meant to move.

Fluid- stay hydrated, I know this part is really tough.  I keep a daily journal on how much water I take in, how many steps I take, etc.  Many times you have to force yourself to do things and I know it is hard.

Allow yourself to falter- cancer can be a heavy burden and after all we are human.  Acknowledge your feelings; explore them and understand them.  Sometimes it hurts but sometimes it can also be insightful and really awesome.

If you do falter it’s fine- don’t be too hard on yourself.   After you falter, focus the energy within you and fight and within the fight you will find yourself.  Focus on living and know you can be strong.

The only word underlined twice is fight; I did that for a reason.

…and remember, “F” cancer.