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Harold Cameron and Walter Mercadante’s walk is sponsored by companies such as Toyota, AT&T, Hush Puppy and Dunkin’ Donuts. PHOTO BY MIKE CAVALIERE
Palm Coast Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2011 8 years ago

One cause, one walker, 50 states

by: Mike Cavaliere Multimedia Director

Harold Cameron, 54, has two brain tumors and a walker. He plans to walk the United State to raise money and awareness for brain cancer and brain tumor research. “Treasure, savor and embrace every moment,” he says.

It’s a good day for a walk, Harold Cameron, 54, says, eyeing the sky and unloading his blue walker from the car.

Some days, that’s not the case. Some days, he says, he feels intracranial pressure and knows it will rain. Some days he’s groggy. Some days, his two brain tumors are acting up, and he needs an hour, two cups of coffee, medication and a prayer.

Then he heads out.

“There’s life after the diagnosis,” he says, a sturdy wooden crucifix nailed to the front of his walker like a hood ornament. “There can be life after the negative experience … if you choose hope.”

Cameron, who lives and walks with a partner, Walter Mercadante, was diagnosed with having an acoustic neuroma and a meningioma at the end of 2004.

At first, he says, there was a period of fear, depression, concern. He was suicidal. He felt like he “broke life and couldn’t fix it.”

But that passed after he read “The Secret,” by Rhonda Byrne. That was his “ah-ha moment.”

“Yeah, my experience sucks,” he says. “But my attitude doesn’t have to.”

He embarked on a mission to alter his perspective, commit to a purpose, become an advocate for positive thinking. He began to walk in an effort to raise awareness and money for brain cancer and brain tumor research.

From Scranton, Pa., Cameron started walking April 2. He plans to tread from Pennsylvania, through Florida, and onto California. Then to Washington, and over to Maine. Then back to his hometown.

Already he has traversed more than 50 cities and has raised $1,200.

By his walk’s end, he hopes to raise a total of $250,000 for brain tumor nonprofit Miles for Hope.

Cars, vans and semitrucks blur past him on State Road 100. But Cameron holds fast to the shoulder.

“I don’t want to survive,” he says, “I want to thrive.”

His white “Positively Crossing America” T-shirt rustles in the wind of passing traffic.

“God has shown me: I must do this walk. And here I am,” he says.

Cameron, who has a background in sales and marketing, also wrote a book, “Why I Walk,” which is about his plight, his walk and brain cancer/tumors in general. It was published in April, when he set off on his expedition, with portions of the royalties going to Miles for Hope, tumor research at Duke University and the church.

“It defines me as a person,” he says.

Stopping in midstride, Cameron describes a near-death experience he had as a child, when his appendix burst and he fell unconscious on the operating table.

He says he heard a surgeon: “We’re losing him!” Then he stood before a dark tunnel. He saw a light, and he swears he felt heaven.

After that, he knew he had a purpose.

“I want to be a voice for those people who don’t have a voice,” he says. “Or don’t know how to use it.”

When Cameron’s U.S. tour is complete, he plans to walk Canada, in 2013. If all goes well, he’ll walk from Scotland, to England, after that, in 2014.

“Treasure, savor and embrace every moment,” Cameron said. “If I can help just one person, convince them to get a scan that catches a tumor early, I’ll have done my job.”

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