Grand Junction man survives cancer, runs marathon |

Grand Junction man survives cancer, runs marathon

Sharon Sullivan
Grand Junction Correspondent

Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The first time Dave Massey, 50, was diagnosed with cancer, he was 29. The doctor wanted to cut off both his legs at the hip and told him he had six months to live.

Massey found another doctor.

Less than two weeks ago, on Feb. 24, Massey ran a 26.2-mile marathon in New Orleans in just under five hours.

After that first cancer diagnosis in 1986, Massey sought another opinion at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he underwent nine months of treatment that included six courses of chemotherapy and 14 radiation treatments. He became cancer free for a while.

Then in 1997, a germ cell tumor was found in his chest. He returned to the cancer center in Houston, where he went through another nine months of treatment that included 13 courses of chemotherapy and surgery that removed not only the tumor, but also his left lung and the sac around his heart.

“So I ran the marathon with one lung,” Massey said.

Massey was inspired to run his first marathon by his wife of two-and-a-half years, Karen Massey, who ran the Honolulu Marathon six months ago.

“My goal was to train with her, run half of it with her,” Massey said. “I was amazed how much I could do.”

Massey decided he wanted to run his own marathon.

After checking with his doctor for approval, Massey and his wife signed up for the Mardi Gras Marathon in Massey’s hometown of New Orleans.

Karen Massey is a traveling occupational therapist. She found a temporary job in New Orleans, and Massey began training for his first marathon.

Karen Massey is a 1996 graduate of Fruita Monument High School and is the daughter of Bruce and Bev Dwire of Grand Junction. Her sister Teresa Dwire also lives in Grand Junction.

The couple spends a few months in Grand Junction each year in between traveling to work in places like California, Hawaii and Louisiana.

Generally the couple runs together three times a week and does yoga and weight training two days a week. The other two days they rest.

Karen Massey, who survived childhood leukemia, ran her first marathon five years ago. She ran cross country track in high school.

“What’s really fun is Karen and I just really enjoy the training, just the two of us, jogging along, talking. It’s a nice way to live,” Massey said.

“It gets kind of addicting. We want to do one (a marathon) together,” Karen Massey said.

A good day every day

Massey likes to say he’s glad he had cancer.

He said he’s healthier and happier than he used to be. He’s changed his lifestyle.

The first time he had cancer, he went through nine months of treatment, but didn’t change his habits.

“I worked too much, was overly stressed, I wasn’t eating properly,” Massey said.

When he was diagnosed a second time with cancer, Massey asked his doctor what he needed to do to not get cancer again.

“He said, ‘You need to eat the way your grandmother used to cook for you,'” Massey said.

Massey began eating fresh fruits and vegetables, well-balanced meals, and mostly organic foods.

“He said, ‘If you can’t read the ingredients on a package, that stuff isn’t good for you,'” Massey recalled.

Massey and his wife also eat six times a day, starting with a big breakfast every day, followed by healthy snacks in between meals and before bed.

Massey and Karen started a nonprofit organization, A Good Day Inc., to give support, education and encouragement to cancer survivors and their loved ones. Karen’s parents sit on the board and are helping the couple form the nonprofit organization. The Web site,, is currently under development.

Massey also does motivational speaking and has authored two books. His first, “A Good Day Anyway, My Poetic Journal of Cancer Survival,” is a collection of poems Massey started writing as a gift to his daughter during his second bout with cancer. His second book, “A Good Day Everyday,” will be released later this year. “A Good Day Everyday” is about Massey’s strategies for coping with treatment, side effects and life after cancer.

The books can be found at Massey’s Web site:

“I want to encourage people to do things that are good for them ” like getting out and exercising,” Massey said. “I’m 50 years old, and I’m not a super athlete. If I can do it anybody can.”

Cancer forces people to change things in their lives, Massey said.

“I had to have cancer twice before I realized I had to change my life,” Massey said.

Now, “I honestly have a good day every day,” Massey said.

Reach Sharon Sullivan at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User