CHANDLER, AZ - Steve Cooper's story is one about survival and determination where a dog named Lexi plays a big role.
When Steve Cooper was diagnosed with prostate cancer late in 2012, it was a surprise to say the least.
"People think it is an old man disease," he said. "I was only 41 at the time."
The Chandler businessman, faced with a death sentence in a very different way than most. He started training for the Ironman competition.
"I figured I have to be as healthy as possible to have a positive outcome," he said.
It was last summer that he decided to adopt Lexi, a small black lab.
"When you have cancer, everything is about cancer," he said. "She kept my mind off of it. She is a life-saver."
With Lexi by his side, Cooper trained and under went difficult treatment.
In November he did what most people healthy people will never do. He completed the Ironman competition in Tempe. He is the only person to ever do so while on radiation.
It is that same determination that he put into action again in January, this time to save Lexi.
She got lost while they were in Las Vegas in January.
"It was devastating," he said. "I parked my truck out where she was last seen and I wasn't going to leave until I found her."
He hired several people to help and volunteers showed up to help in the search. Six days later he found her.
Cooper is still undergoing cancer treatment. He now takes Lexi with him to talk to others suffering with the disease hoping his story can give them strength.
On this World Cancer Day he urges others to take on his "never give up" motto.
"We're all animals and we have fight in us," he said.
He urges any man over 40 to get screened for prostate cancer.
"There are so many misconceptions about it," he said. "The screenings don't take long and they can save your life and the quality of your life."