NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Aaron Hawkins has a major goal: He wants to complete his 50th marathon by his 50th birthday.
"I solve all of life's problems on a nice long run," Aaron Hawkins said while jogging around his Hendersonville, Tennessee neighborhood.
"If I accomplish nothing else in the day, at least a long run is a great way to start," he said.
In 2019, the lifelong runner was stopped in his tracks by an unexpected diagnosis.
Dr. Jonathan Nesbitt at Vanderbilt University's Medical Center was one of the first people to tell the 49-year-old that "it's cancer."
Dr. Nesbitt eventually determined Hawkins' cancer was adenocarcinoma, which accounts for up to 40% of all lung cancers in the U.S.
"I had to remove half of his lung because of the location of the tumor," Dr. Nesbitt said.
The tumor never would have been found had Hawkins' wife not implored him to get a physical.
"The unusual nature about Aaron was he was the picture of health, you would never expect he'd have a malignancy," Dr. Nesbitt said.
Hawkins is now hoping other men his age see hear about his story.
"The story would’ve been whole different if I had just dragged my feet," he said.
A few weeks ago, Hawkins completed race number 49, the Rock N' Roll Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee.
When he crossed the finish line, he was greeted by his wife, daughter and Dr. Nesbitt.
"It sounds cliche but I'm just so incredibly blessed," he said.