Dad of Three Battles Rare Cancer, Runs 37-Mile Fundraiser on 37th Birthday

November 14, 2020 Updated: November 14, 2020

A husband, father, and a teacher fighting a rare cancer is “pursuing healing” in the absence of a cure.

He donned his running shoes and ran 37 miles to mark his 37th birthday in October, raising money for cancer research in the process.

Joel Stetler, of Fresno, California, has been fighting hard since his diagnosis in 2015. The third-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary has a rare form of stage four sarcoma, malignant cancer that forms in the bones and soft tissue.

Epoch Times Photo
Joel Stetler (L) with his friend. (Courtesy of Joel Stetler)

Initially offered little hope besides palliative care, Stetler has beaten the odds by staying strong for five years, reported ABC 7.

“Fight it in any way you can,” Stetler told ABC 7. “And if there’s not a cure on the table, pursue healing.”

Despite enduring multiple surgeries and eight rounds of chemotherapy, Stetler crossed the 37-mile finish line at Art of Life Healing Garden in North Fresno with a friend, who had recently beaten cancer.

The pair raised funds for Brave Like Gabe, a foundation that champions research into rare cancers.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Joel Stetler)

Stetler’s wife, Amanda, is also a runner. He was 32 when he was diagnosed with the rare ailment; earlier that same year, Stetler had decided to start running his age in miles, reported Clovis Roundup.

“I had never heard of this kind of cancer,” he told Clovis Roundup. “All I could think about was all the things we hadn’t done with our kids yet.”

After his diagnosis, however, Stetler stayed true to his running pledge and turned his efforts toward fundraising to help find a cure for others.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Joel Stetler)

Stetler ran the New York City Marathon in 2019.

Having already refuted his prognosis, Stetler does not know how much time he has left, the Clovis Roundup stated. The brave fighter is simply living each remaining day to the fullest.

We would love to hear your stories! You can share them with us at