Race to beat brain cancer: Head for the Cure 5K returns to Orlando

Man diagnosed with disease uses race to raise money, motivate others fighting it

ORLANDO, Fla. – This weekend, dozens of people will be putting on their running shoes for the second annual Head for the Cure 5K in Orlando. 

The event helps raise funds for brain cancer research. 

For one man diagnosed with the disease, running became a way of not only helping raise money, but to motivate others in their fight against cancer. 

"Your mind races. I mean, it's like when they say you die, your life flashes before your eyes. It's kind of that," Jason Mulcahy said.

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Mulcahy thinks back to how his life changed forever the summer of 2016.

"(I was) on the beach with my family in Massachusetts on vacation and had a focal seizure. Just affected my face. Couldn't talk. My family thought I was having a stroke," Mulcahy said.

He had a seizure that lasted almost two minutes. He later drove to a local hospital, where doctors found a tumor in his brain.

"I have two young daughters and a wife to think about, you know? What's going to happen to them when I'm gone?" Mulcahy said. "They gave me two options: You can either go back to Florida, chances are, you'll probably die from whatever it is, or we can take you by ambulance to Boston and have some of the best neurosurgeons look at it."

Four days later, Mulcahy underwent brain surgery. Doctors in Boston removed the tumor, but that was just the beginning of his battle against cancer.

Three weeks later, he started treatment at Orlando Health. Although doctors initially gave him 14 to 15 months to live, he is still proving them wrong.

"By a lot," he said. "And I'm still doing very well."

After his glioblastoma diagnosis, Jason started to run 5K events to help raise funds for brain cancer research.

His first one was the Brain Cancer Awareness 5K in New Smyrna Beach.

On Saturday, he will meet runners and walkers at Harbor Park, just east of downtown Orlando, for the Head for the Cure 5K. It will be Jason's eighth 5K since his brain tumor diagnosis in 2016.

"Knowing that the money that we raise goes directly to new treatments or (could) possibly cure my condition is great," Mulcahy said.

Money raised from the race benefits Orlando Health-UF Health Cancer Center, where Mulcahy continues to receive chemo therapy.

Jason Mulcahy explains why the Head for the Cure 5K is so important to him.
Jason Mulcahy explains why the Head for the Cure 5K is so important to him.

Mulcahy also uses the Optune system, a 3-pound machine that's with him 22 hours a day due to recurrence.

"So every second, a pulse goes back and forth, front, back and then side to side and front and back," he said.

The father of two believes a positive outlook is just as meaningful as his medical treatments.

"That's what's gonna keep you going. You can sit at home, watch TV, wallow in your sorrows. It's not gonna make you any better. It's just gonna make you worse. Life doesn't have to end because you got a bad diagnosis. You can keep going," Mulcahy said.

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The Head for the Cure 5K starts Saturday at 8 a.m., and guests are invited to run or walk the race.

Saturday's event will be the second Head for the Cure 5K in Orlando. The race began in 2003 in Kansas City.

Since then, it's raised more than $10 million for brain cancer research and programs.

Click here to register for the race or make a donation.

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