Suburban firefighter’s health battles inspire him to run Chicago Marathon – and more

NORTHBROOK, Ill. -- Steve Deluca has dedicated his life to helping others.   As a firefighter for 26 years in suburban Northbrook,  he has seen his share of tragedy and triumph.

“We all understand how fragile life is, especially being in this job,” he says.   “I’ve seen life change for people in a snap.”

It didn’t occur it would happen to him until 1997.

“We were at a BBQ and all of a sudden I started getting off balance and dizziness. I thought maybe it was vertigo.”

It wasn’t vertigo. It was a brain tumor which robbed him of the majority of hearing in his left ear. Surgeons removed the benign tumor but the damage to his hearing was done.  A hearing aid got him back to work but five years later at 33 years old, Steve suffered another blow during a colonoscopy when doctors discovered two tumors.

Steve had Stage III advanced colon cancer which doctors warned him carried a high probability of reoccurrence.

Steve was determined to stay positive.

“You get so much dictated to you over all this stuff.  You got to do this and do this and you’re so sick all the time. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon and I didn’t really run that much at all.  It seemed like a good idea.”

Such a good idea that he signed up again the year after and the year after that and then races in other cities and when he hit five years cancer free he signed up for the Ironman.

Steve still runs marathons every year and works for the fire department,  all the while expanding his family.  Steve admits he had his occasional “pity party” following his cancer diagnosis but kept them very short lived.

Steve says he’s not the fastest runner, and doesn’t care to be. He says he’s in the best shape of his life.  He now wears two hearing aids as the hearing in his right ear is also deteriorating.  But with modern technology his hearing aids are clearer than ever and controlled via his iPhone and Apple Watch.

After the marathon this weekend, his focus turns to Ironman 2017 marking 15 years cancer free.

Steve considers himself one of the lucky ones.

“ I’m very blessed with everything that’s happened,” he says. “I look back at so many things where the road could have gone a different way and now it’s like, I’m married. I have four kids. They’re all healthy.  I’ve very blessed. God’s been very generous.”

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