MONTICELLO, Minn. (WCCO) — Few things get you thinking more about how precious life is than having a doctor tell you, “You have cancer.”

Big Lake resident Ray Dinius, 75, says even though he has survived three different types of cancer in the past 16 years, he is not dwelling on how time runs out. He is making the most of the time he has.

It was about five years ago that he made his first trip to a karate studio in Monticello, a studio that takes students as young as 2 and a half.

“I happened to see an ad in the Monticello Times from Dojo Karate,” Dinius said. ‘Free lessons for one month.'”

He was easily the oldest student in the room, and easily had the most dramatic story.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“I just thank the Lord that I can get up every morning because I have had three cancers now. I had prostate, colon and bladder,” he said.

In each case, Dinius says doctors caught the cancer early, but the close calls changed his focus — and got him moving.

Dinius now has his first-degree black belt. He also has the admiration of a man less than half his age — Leonard Zepeda. He owns the Monticello studio, and he trained Dinius.

“I always tell him, every time he’s in class, whether it’s one class he takes or two classes that same day that he takes, ‘Man, if I make it to 75, I wish I could be like you,'” Zepeda said.

Dinius hopes by showing what he can do at 75, he will inspire others to make positive changes in their own lives.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“You’ve got to keep your body moving,” he said. “You’ve got to keep your parts going. And the more you do it, the better off you’ll be because your health will be better.”

Dinius says he has faced and overcome what many fear is a death sentence. But he is here to say that it does not have to be.

“Even if you’re diagnosed with cancer, there’s still life,” he said. “And I have had three lives already, so I feel I’m very fortunate.”

Dinius has set several goals for the future, including earning a second-degree black belt.

He would like to accomplish that by the spring of 2017, when he is 77.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)