John Casterline

John Casterline, a stage four lung cancer survivor, approached the American Lung Association with an idea to raise awareness for lung cancer and the work of the American Lung Association. On April 28, 2011, at age 68, he set out to conquer the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, in spite of his recent chemotherapy treatments for prostate and throat cancer.

To promote his “Lung Cancer Hike” he did interviews with Fox News, the Orlando Sentinel, the Growing Bolder Radio Show, and several national media outlets. To prepare for the hike, he walked in several 5 and 15K races with his backpack and a sign promoting the Pacific Crest hike and requesting donations.

As John set out for his Lung Cancer Hike, he said his motto would be “Never quit on a bad day.” He hiked nearly 1000 miles encountering rattlesnakes, bears, an upper respiratory infection, and horrible rashes. Because of his ongoing and dangerous health problems, he made the agonizing decision to quit the Mexico to Canada trek, hitchhiking 50 miles to find a doctor. He discovered he had a severely infected MRSA wound which required surgery.

In spite of the fact that he was not able to complete the trek, John raised $20,000 in contributions to the American Lung Association. He insists he is not finished with his fundraising efforts to increase awareness of lung cancer’s high death toll and the need for more research. His goal is to give it another try, learning from some of the mistakes he made on the first hike.

In addition to the Lung Cancer Hike, John is very involved with the American Lung Association’s Lung Cancer Support Group. He shares his experiences with other patients and caregivers, offering hope to those in the midst of treatments. He is eager to help with various community events and health fairs.

John retired as a commander with the United States Navy and later as a 7-Eleven stores project manager.  Recently he was awarded the American Lung Association of the Southeast’s most prestigious recognition for volunteers, the Charles F. Tate Volunteer of the Year Award. For more information on John’s Lung Cancer Hike, go to www.lungcancerhike.org.