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Healthwatch 16: Renal Race

WILKES-BARRE -- A few years ago, a Luzerne County family got a scary diagnosis: Frank Pikul was in his 30s when he was told he had kidney cancer.

Fast forward to now he and his wife Erin are planning the seventh annual Renal Race this weekend in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

This year a whole radio station is involved. The crew is now fighting on behalf of one of their own.

The seventh annual Renal Race is scheduled for Sunday morning in Wilkes-Barre.

Erin Rebo Pikul, the owner of union and Main Hair Design, is the co-founder. In 2010, her husband Frank was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

"He went through the gamut of surgeries and treatment, and after a year of just sort of dealing with it, I said, 'I think we should have a race.' And he said, 'I don't want to be the spokesperson for kidney cancer in NEPA.' And I said, 'it's not about you, it's bigger than you,'" Rebo Pikul said.

Erin explains most of the money raised goes to Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, where Frank is treated, and where she says exciting research is happening.

But some of the money stays local to help families who need it.

"Each year, it has become less about us and more about other people. I hate to say I hate meeting new people, because I don't want anyone else to be affected, but it pushes us to keep on doing it and doing it more."

One of those new people she has recently met is Barry Brown.

"I doubled over in pain, at home, on a Saturday afternoon. She got me to the ER. They thought it was a kidney stone, did a test, no kidney stone," Brown recalled.

Tests eventually found kidney cancer.

Barry is a senior account manager at Cumulus Radio near Wilkes-Barre.

"You'll know it's us 'cause we'll have bright orange t-shirts on that say 97.9X and brown on the back."

And a friend of 97.9X's Mike Duffy, a runner who has participated in the renal race before.

"I said, 'I'll tell you what, Barry, this year, I'll run it for you,'" Duffy said. "And that kind of morphed into getting some coworkers to run it with me, and then we were getting shirts, and then it blew up into, let's raise some money in your honor."

"Bucks for Brown" has raised about $3,000 and 97.9X will be sponsoring a water station along the race course for the walkers and runners. Barry will be one of them.

"I feel fine! I feel fine. I work every day. I love my job. and I want to keep doing my job!" Brown said.

Erin says the same.

"People are like, 'Are you a nurse? how do you know all these things?' And I'm like, 'I'm a hairdresser on a mission,'" she laughed.