Faculty Spotlight

Brandman professor makes commitment to fight cancer and finish Disneyland Run

January 12, 2015 by Brandman University

Christopher DeulenStudents at Brandman’s Victorville and Ontario campuses routinely run into Dr. Christopher Deulen. With his long hair, it’s hard not to take notice of the assistant professor of Psychology and Marriage Family Therapy coordinator. The licensed clinical psychologist is a cancer survivor. Recently, he made a commitment to himself and his family to help defeat cancer, and in the process, get healthier.

The Back Story
In 2007, at age 51, Dr. Deulen was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. He had a prostatectomy shortly after the diagnosis and thought he was cancer free. However, two years later the cancer reappeared. “I went through 39 sessions of radiation,” said Dr. Deulen. “All of which were successful and the cancer has not reappeared”. In spite of his cancer scare, his commitment to exercise and leading a healthier lifestyle weren’t where they should have been. “My workouts, usually on an elliptical machine, were becoming fewer and far between,” said Deulen. “My eating habits were changing slowly, but I, like so many people, was caught up in ‘the rat race’ and would succumb to fast food and snacks without burning it off through exercise.” After Christmas of 2012, Dr. Deulen had ballooned to 222 pounds, the most he had ever weighed in his life, “I was feeling lethargic, old and worn out.”

The Commitment
In January of 2013, Dr. Deulen made a promise to himself to start again and to place physical fitness at the center of his existence. He simply began walking his dog daily in the park near his home. “I started at first walking about a half mile, which took me 20 – 30 minutes. I eventually worked up to 8 – 10 laps and went from 30 – 45 minutes. I did this for about six months and then my wife and I moved from Corona, Cailf. to Anza, Calif, up in the mountains.” Dr. Deulen credits his wife for encouraging him to make such drastic lifestyle changes. “At our new residence in Anza, I began walking up and down country roads that were often at a 60+ degree slope. After a week or so, I began testing myself, running up hills, than walking down hills. After that, I began running about a mile, then resting for a minute, then running another mile.”

On July 13, 2014, he took it a step further and devised a “quest” for himself, and called it the ‘Quest for the Iron Lyon’. “I promised myself that I would complete the equivalent of 365 workouts in 365 days. A workout was defined as 40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, not counting breaks or resting time. If I missed a day, I had to make it up some time during the week. Some days I would run in the morning and then again in the evening. I had a ‘minute bank’ where I could accrue any additional minutes after 40 minutes in a workout and then convert it to a ‘workout’ once I reached 40 minutes. Some days I would run an hour, for example, and would count the workout of 40 minutes and bank the additional 20 minutes. If I already had, let’s say 20 minutes in the bank, then I would add that 20 minutes and complete an additional workout. After a couple of months of running, I eventually took out all of the breaks and would run continuously without resting at all.” On July 12, 2014, one year later, he had completed 376 workouts, which was on average 41 minutes per day for a year, approximately a 5K a day. His longest run was a 15.4 miles journey that took 3 hours and 40 minutes. “I have lost 40 pounds and feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.”

Running for a Cause
At Brandman University, community service on the part of faculty and staff is just part of the culture. Deulen felt that his running could assist charitable organizations. He chose the Wounded Warrior Project as the first beneficiary. Twenty-three percent of Brandman’s student population is active duty military, veteran or a dependent. Choosing a cause did not come easy. “There were several organizations, such as Autism Speaks or world hunger programs which are also areas of passion and concern of mine. However, as a clinical psychologist who treats military clients, I believe that this project is critically important as we have so many ‘wounded warriors’ returning home from the Middle East that are in dire need of care due to the ravages of war.” Deulen also turned to a friend and colleague for a cause. “Dr. Joe Faustino turned me on to the Disneyland runs. I had set my mind on running a half marathon in Disneyland in August of 2014. However, due to the popularity of these runs, one must sign up immediately at the appointed time as it closes within hours. I had missed the deadline and was very disappointed. However, my wonderful wife Angela researched the situation and found that some organizations are delegated tickets for charity. My wife found Lazarex Cancer Foundation and they allowed me to run if I could raise at least $800.00.” With the help of his friends and the Brandman community he easily surpassed that goal.

End Result
On August 31, 29 days after his 58th birthday, and seven years after starting to run, Dr. Deulen completed the Disneyland Half Marathon in a time of 3:03:54. Just as importantly, he raised $1,130.00 for the Lazarex Cancer Foundation. We salute Dr. Deulen for his commitment to fitness, community and the fight to end cancer.

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