Suncoast foundation inspires people fighting cancer

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- “You have cancer.” Three little words that can send your whole world crashing down.

There are so many questions; What do I do? Will I live? And what's going to happen to me?

“I was driving home after having headaches, and went to my doctor’s office. He did some examination and he found a node or something in my head, so he called me to get to the hospital immediately.” It was a day 52-year-old Suncoast resident Ira Cotler will never forget. “I got diagnosed in December. At that point I was 49, about to turn fifty in the next year. I had brain cancer.”

He endured almost two weeks of intensive care, multiple medications including a year of chemotherapy. “It's tough to talk to your relatives, your friends who never had it, you need to talk to someone who has had it, and helps you get through it.”

Cotler found the perfect person to talk to.

“I met with a gentleman last night who is 23 years old and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. For me, I was 33 years old and could really relate to him.” Tony McEechern is founder of the Team Tony Foundation, an organization of cancer survivors matched up to support and help other cancer fighters similar in age and type of cancers.

“’You have cancer.’ Your mind goes blank, it's the scariest time in your life,” says McEachern.

It’s also hard for those like Cotler’s 20-year-old son Max to watch their loved one go through cancer. “We didn't know where he was going, or what was going to happen, and that was really hard for me because I like to know what's going to happen next.”

He says the Team Tony Foundation helped. “I think it was really good to see that you're not alone.”

Max says his dad, always a fighter and a winner, found inspiration in McEachern and the foundation. “It's so much needed, I can't begin to express how much needed it is, because it does help you.”

The Team Tony Foundation is a local 501c (3) not for profit organization.

This weekend you can participate or cheer on competitors in the Dirty Duo race benefiting the foundation. It involves cycling, running and getting dirty. It takes place on Sunday at 8am at the Celery Fields in Sarasota.