David Kostolansky, a very fit and active man, did all he could to keep himself healthy. He ran, lifted weights, ate well and took care of his body. He ran the Chicago Marathon two times and completed numerous other races in the Chicago area. When his oldest daughter, Megan, asked him why he was diligent about his exercise routine, he told her that he did it so that he would be around to take care of his family. His strong physical conditioning would soon be put to the test, and would be credited with helping him survive as he engaged in a battle for his life.
In late 2014, David developed a mystery illness. Megan recalls, “He was having a lot of unusual symptoms and it took a long time to pinpoint what was going on.” In December, his doctor finally figured out what was causing his symptoms. David and his family learned that he had advanced pancreatic cancer. Because he was in such good physical shape, he was able to receive chemotherapy that other patients were not able to tolerate. He went through two rounds of chemotherapy, followed by radiation treatments.
In July, 2015, he traveled to the Mayo Clinic for surgery to remove his tumor. The tumor was wrapped around the mesenteric artery, making its removal quite challenging. The medical team told the Kostolansky family that there was a significant chance that David might die on the operating table. Surgeons removed the head of his pancreas, along with parts of his duodenum, intestine and liver. David survived his surgery and was declared to be cancer-free following the procedure. His family was ecstatic to be granted the gift of more time together.
Following the surgery, David faced some physical struggles. His digestive system was forever changed and he lost a considerable amount of weight. Megan watched her strong and active father wither to 110 pounds. His main focus in life became trying to keep weight on his body.
David, who received his undergraduate degree and an MBA from Notre Dame University, is the Chief Operating Officer for a marketing company in Chicago, IL. He has continued to work during his battle with pancreatic cancer. He and his wife, Mary, are raising their three daughters, Megan, 19, Kat, 17 and Clare, 11, together in a suburb of Chicago. Megan admires her father greatly and appreciates his simple Christian faith. She explains, “He is all about loving one another. His favorite thing is when our family is all together. He talks about the importance of family and how much more important that bond is than material things.”
At the time of her father’s diagnosis, Megan was attending Baylor University, where she played Division I soccer. She had played soccer throughout her childhood and had a life-long goal of playing collegiate soccer. However, she soon realized that it was emotionally too difficult for her to be so far away from her father. “It hit me that there was more to life than soccer,” Megan says. She transferred to St. Mary’s, Notre Dame’s sister school, where she is studying Spanish and Psychology. Since she was no longer playing soccer, she started running for exercise.
Megan’s Family Suffers a Blow
A month ago, the Kostolansky family suffered another blow when they learned that David’s cancer had returned. He is currently enrolled in a clinical trial, and while his tumor markers are decreasing, he is struggling physically. It is extremely difficult for David to eat and he is painfully thin. For now, Megan and her family are doing all they can to show David how much they love him. Megan explains, “Everyone is working very hard to let him know how important he is. We all want him to know how we feel about him and how much we love him.”
Megan was on Facebook one day when she happened to see a Project Purple post advertising its charity partnership with the Chicago Marathon. She immediately thought, “I am totally going to do that!” Since this is her first marathon, she began her training early. She is following a 30-week beginner training program. Her previous race experience consists of a handful of 5ks. When she told her parents that she wanted to run the marathon, they were concerned about the commitment of time and energy that is involved in training for a 26.2 mile-long race. However, they are now on board with Megan’s plan and they enjoy watching the donations coming in to her fundraising campaign.
Though she has been running consistently for a while, Megan still struggles with the mental aspect of distance running. “Distance running is a challenge because you want to keep a set pace for a long time. It has been a tough metal battle for me. When I struggle, I think of my dad and all he has been through with his surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. That makes what I do feel like nothing.”
Megan sees her fundraising and running for Project Purple as one more way to demonstrate to her father how much she loves him. “My dad is such a genuine person. He has a strong faith. He is courageous. He has such a great relationship with my mom. He worships her because she takes such good care of him. He loves life and all of the people in his life,” Megan says. She hopes that her training for a race in his honor will give her father something to look forward to. “This is about more than just running for me and that makes it really special.”
Please make a tax-deductible donation to Megan’s Project Purple Chicago Marathon fundraiser at the following link: