Correction: the original article posted had listed Jim Hickey as a "retired Marine". This information has been corrected to "Marine Veteran". 

COLUMBUS, Neb. -- A man who has spent the last 26 years walking across the country for cancer awareness is keeping his promise by finishing a walk in Nebraska, despite battling cancer himself.

The man's name is Jim Hickey, a 62-year-old Marine Veteran from New Jersey, who has been going on walks across the United States for cancer awareness.

Cancer has been an all too familiar companion of Hickey's life with his father and brother both having battles with prostate cancer.

As cancer continued to have an impact on his life, Hickey felt compelled to do something.

So in 1998 Hickey quit his job, sold his car, gave up his apartment, and began walking to bring awareness to cancer, specifically pediatric cancer.

Now in 2024 after walking over 9,000 miles, Hickey has found himself in Nebraska once again to finish what he started, walking for a girl in Cozad: Paishence Hansen.

At just three years old Paishence was diagnosed with medulloblastoma in 2019, a form of cancer in her brain and spine.

Since then Paishence has undergone several treatments for her cancer, including visits to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

"It was a long journey," her mother Tara Meyer said. "It was long, it was so long it felt forever."

However, after a five-year-long battle, Meyer said Paishence is in remission, and they are working to continue getting Paishence the treatment she needs.

"She is in remission, she still has the tumors, but they are not growing and they have not grown for probably over a year," Meyer said. "It was a long five years."

After learning about Paishence in 2021, Hickey reached out to Tara and her family, offering to walk across Nebraska to spread awareness about what she was going through.

Hickey started a walk for her in September of 2021 in Scottsbluff intending to make a 500-mile journey to the other side of Nebraska. 

However, as he got over 300 miles into his walk Hickey realized something was wrong.

Stopping by clinics Hickey was told that he was likely experiencing symptoms from cancer, and while he tried to push on with the walk, the symptoms continued to worsen, and to his frustration, Hickey realized he needed to put the walk on pause.

"I had to leave the road which bothered the he** out of me," Hickey said. "I didn't finish what I said I would do, and I made that promise that I'd make the whole walk and I wasn't able to do it."

Hickey was later diagnosed with kidney cancer and later bladder cancer.

For treatment Hickey had tumors removed from his bladder and even got a kidney removed, but tumors were recently found in his bladder again.

Despite the setbacks, Hickey was determined to keep his promise to Paishence, no matter how long it took him.

Now Hickey is back on the road and walking to finish up where he left off.

"You break a promise to an eight-year-old with brain cancer and that's a one-way ticket to he**," Hickey said. "I'm keeping that promise to her, which I'm just thankful and blessed that I can."

That dedication to his promise is not lost Meyer, who has nothing but praise for Hickey.

"After two years Jim and I still kept in contact, he is kind of part of our family now," Meyer said. "He's is a very special's truly amazing that he is going to finish this, not just for Paishence but for our family."

When asked why he has continued to walk these last 26 years, Hickey said there is no answer and that he just feels compelled to continue walking.

"I have to," Hickey said. "I don't know why. I can't explain it to myself, I can't explain it to you. Common sense says 'Okay it's over, you've done enough' but I can't help but continue. I don't know what's pushing me, but I have to."

Once he finishes his walk in Nebraska, Hickey will have surgery to remove the tumors in his bladder and undergo further treatment.

Hickey said he knows he will have to stop walking at some point, but is already planning future dedicated walks for children battling pediatric cancer.

With her daughter now in remission, Meyer asks others to donate to other causes, especially if they are children in your local area with pediatric cancers.