DENVER (KDVR) — September is blood cancer awareness month, and a Colorado oncology nurse is sharing his inspirational journey after becoming a survivor himself.

In 2007, Justin Regan became a nurse. He found his passion in oncology, helping cancer patients and their families through every facet of their battles.

“To offer engagement and presence to people who are on their last days and to them and their families, it’s incredibly rewarding and fulfilling because you can really help them pass on with dignity and peace,” Regan said. 

At 59 years old, Regan found himself on a similar journey as the patients he dedicated his career to helping.

Justin Regan, seen here with his two sons, overcomes cancer diagnosis, pays it forward

“It was in the summer of 2020 and I had started running,” Regan said. 

During a 5K cancer run for his hospital, the healthy husband and father to two sons found his legs were giving out while running a distance he felt he should easily conquer.

Regan figured his weakness and fatigue had to be COVID since this happened during the height of the pandemic. However, after two negative tests, his nurse instinct settled in.

“That’s when I started to worry,” Regan said. “I thought, oh boy because I remember taking care of leukemia patients in the hospital and every one of them said that they could barely make it up to a set of stairs without just getting gassed and having to hold on to that the handrail or walking across the house even and that was where I was going.”

Doctors at the Colorado Blood Cancer Institute discovered Regan’s intuition was right and gave him a diagnosis in the Leukemia family.

“Justin [was] presented with a very serious form of Myelodysplastic Syndrome,” CBCI Director of Leukemia Service Dr. Marcello Rotta said. “These are very serious conditions. These are blood cancers that not only show up as cancers, but many times, they show up as dysfunction of making blood.”

Justin Regan, who spent his career helping others cope with similar situations, overcomes cancer diagnosis

“My two thoughts that I had, really that are prominent in my memory are, oh God, did I do enough to take care of my family? Because you think about those things when you are kind of faced with your own mortality,” Regan said. “My second was that I was grateful to God for letting me be the one to take on the burden rather than my wife or my boys and just went from there.”

Regan’s doctors recommended a bone-marrow transplant. Watch his story on FOX31 at 5 p.m. to see where this journey has led him today.