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Childhood Cancer Survivor Turns Race Car Driver

Childhood Cancer Survivor Turns Race Car Driver

As 18-year-old Gabe Tesch makes a name for himself on the professional racing circuit, he competes against other talented drivers who’ve dedicated their life to the sport. But Gabe has faced considerably more challenges along the road than many of his competitors.

When he was 11 years old, Gabe was diagnosed with a brain tumor called astrocytoma. For his family, the diagnosis was a shock. His doctors found the tumor on the right side of his brain, where it was impacting his growth and putting him at risk for long-term side effects, including loss of sight and hearing.

As the Tesch family researched additional treatment options after surgeons removed the bulk of the tumor, they learned about proton therapy to target the remaining tumor cells, while minimizing potential damage to surrounding, still-developing tissue.

The SCCA Proton Therapy Center is located hours away from their home in Spokane, so Gabe's mom, Sherrie, their dog, Angus, and Gabe made the trip to Seattle for treatment.

As a childhood cancer survivor, Tesch got to experience a Wishing Star trip to a Formula 1 race. He immediately fell in love with the racing atmosphere and looked up to the drivers, who “seemed like superheroes.” He decided that this was the future he wanted to pursue.

Gave bought his first go-kart the following winter and began spending more and more time practicing. He also began exercising and weightlifting at the gym several days a week to build strength and endurance for racing. Besides helping Gabe succeed on the track, his focus on fitness assisted his recovery and even led to a growth spurt.

Most competitors start racing as young as 7 or 8 years old; however, Gabe’s cancer diagnosis and treatment meant he didn’t start competing till he was 15. Rather than holding him back, these challenges only increased his motivation to succeed and overcome the odds.

Today, Gabe says he’s “living the dream.” He is celebrating his recent high school graduation as he prepares to take the next step in his career: open-wheel formula car racing.

Gabe believes his cancer battle shaped him into the person he is today. “My experience with cancer is why I’m chasing this dream and taking every chance I get to do something extraordinary,” he says.

He continues to share his story to give back to others who may be in a similar situation. In addition to fundraising and speaking opportunities with cancer patients, Gabe and his family also created what they call the “Thrive Icon” project. They know firsthand how important it is for cancer patients and survivors to continue to dream and make plans, and through this initiative they are seeking to provide tools and resources to help others set and reach their goals.

Follow Gabe's journey through his website and social media channels.