This Sunday, Caleb Payne of Kentucky will set off on an emotional and physical journey. This journey comes after the death of his daughter and his own near death experience.
Caleb will walk well over one million steps as he leaves his family for an estimated seven months to walk the Appalachian Trail.
Caleb has spent months preparing for this trek. He will sleep in a hammock above the ground and use a small stove fueled by alcohol.
He jokes that sleeping off the ground is, “a lot better than sleeping in a tent to be honest with you.”
He has been physically preparing for this journey at the Jefferson Memorial Forest since November. November marked an important anniversary for him as he became one year cancer free, reports WAVE TV 3.
“I was completely floored when I was told I had cancer,” Caleb recalled.
“I am an Advanced Stage Colorectal Cancer survivor. Just 18 months after having just buried my oldest child on June 21, 2011 (Father’s day) from a life long illness of Cystic Fibrosis, I was diagnosed with a life threaten illness as well. I was diagnosed on January 07, 2013 by Dr. Whitney Jones, MD via a colonoscopy. I can still remember those words while still recovering from the procedure. He placed his hand on my left shoulder and said, ‘yeah, it’s cancer, but, we will travel this road together,’” Caleb wrote on his website Kysemicolon.
Surgeons removed half of his colon, and his doctor gave him less than 2 years to live.
“I probably could have been saved if I would have gotten a colonoscopy at age 50,” Caleb said.
Despite grieving for his daughter and battling for his life he would stay strong and fight. When things got tough he would walk through the woods to find inner peace.
“I feel a healing out in the wilderness,” he said. “It has helped me.”
With his upcoming journey he will turn to the woods again and each step he takes he will help save others from colon cancer.
“I want to hike and go to small communities along the way and talk to them about early prevention,” Caleb explained.
Caleb says that he will filter creek water for drinking and will post videos along the way.
He plans on arriving in Maine at the end of September. He states that he is extremely grateful to have this opportunity to raise awareness and for all of the people in his life who stood by his side.
“I will be forever grateful for the people who saved my life and the doctors and surgeons who did that,” he said.
As he treks across 14 states he hopes to raise $13,000 for the Colon Prevention Project through his journey. He explains that the $13,000 will represent Kentuckians that have been diagnosed with colon cancer over the past five years
If one donates to the cause Caleb will personalize a day of his hike in honor of ‘a loved one who has battled, or is battling colon cancer.‘
Caleb is calling his hike the ‘Semicolon.’ His videos of his journey can be viewed at http://kysemicolon.com.