Spreading Hope

Last updated on November 05, 2023

South Knoxville man runs for “Team Hope” in Race Against Cancer

Nick Parker is retired, but he is anything but tired. Rather, he is inspired to share a message of hope. Parker has undergone extensive treatment at Thompson Cancer Survival Center and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and is planning to participate in the upcoming 5K Run/Walk on Nov. 5.

He says, “For me, it will mean I’m ‘back.’”

As a result of his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis in 2014, Parker received a device implanted in his brain to ease the tremors that accompany the degenerative disease. Thanks to this technology, the tremors have ceased. However, it was just days after receiving this implanted device that he got another staggering diagnosis: esophageal cancer.

“I thought I was having heartburn, so I had some routine GI tests done,” Parker says. That’s when his doctors found a cancerous tumor on his esophagus.

Nick Parker, patient in hospital bed
“When I was diagnosed, God laid it on my heart that he had a plan. I believe he has given me miracle after miracle,” Parker says.

“I don’t get sick, other than Parkinson’s and cancer,” he jokes. The South Knoxville native was in good health before his health issues arose, and he plans to return to that status of good health. He and his wife Trina have just celebrated 30 years of marriage, and she has been a source of unwavering support, along with his family and friends.

Nick smiles in a selfie with his wife of 30 years, Trina
Nick and Trina Parker

After Parker underwent eight rounds of chemo at Thompson Cancer Survival Center and 30 sessions of proton therapy at the Thompson Proton Center, he rang the bell of victory. But his journey was not over. He underwent a full esophagectomy, which is the removal of the esophagus. That was in April 2023 and throughout recovery, Parker continues to feel more and more like himself.

His medical oncologist was David Chism, MD. His radiation therapist was Ryan Grover, MD. His surgeons were Michael Antiporda, MD, surgery specialist and David Graham, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon. “We are just so lucky to have these physicians here locally, and I know my God worked through their expert hands to treat me, which was a miracle.”

Through an upcoming fundraiser for cancer patients, he hopes to spread the message of hope, despite the challenging circumstances any of us may face. His team for the upcoming Race Against Cancer is “Team Hope.”

He says, “for me, this race will be a sign that I’m back. You can’t quit or give up on life. My motto is, end every sentence with a comma, not an exclamation point, because it’s not the end.”

Parker is excited to run the 5K in November, and, as a former marine, plans to give it his ‘all.’

He says, “Life isn’t about you, it’s about paying it forward. And that’s what I intend to do with Team Hope.”

Race Against Cancer is a fundraiser for Thompson Cancer Survival Center’s foundation. Funds directly benefit the patients in our care, so the money goes to help people who live here in East Tennessee. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. All walks of life are affected, and many people need help with transportation, offset costs of medications that aren’t covered by insurance, and other help they may need.

Registration is still open for in-person and virtual racing at RaceAgainstCancer.org. The 5K Run/Walk will take place on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. at World’s Fair Park.

Update: Nick Parker’s team, “Team Hope,” raised the most dollars of all the teams that participated in the Race Nov. 5. He got to share his personal story with the race participants and fire the starting gun.

Nick Parker smiles with first responders at Race Against Cancer.
Nick Parker smiles with first responders at Race Against Cancer.
Nick Parker runs during Race Against Cancer.
Nick Parker participates in his first Race Against Cancer. This year, he has undergone chemotherapy, proton therapy, and a full esophagectomy for cancer treatment. He continues to inspire others during his recovery journey.


RAC Finish line
Congratulations to the hundreds of race participants for crossing the finish line of the Race Against Cancer on Nov. 5, 2023.

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