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5 Year/5,000 Mile Extended Running Life


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Following is a story I posted recently in another on-line forum:


Big moments in my life and I had to share ……

On March 1, 2011, I will become a 5 year lung cancer survivor. Sometime in April, 2011, I will run my 5,000th mile………

On February 7, 2006, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. On March 1, 2006, I had surgery to remove the upper lobe of my left lung. My oncologist talked about a study being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of post operative chemotherapy for early stage lung cancers (mine was eventually classified as Stage 1b). I chose to participate. However, on the day I was to start chemo, it was discovered that my heart had gone into atrial fibrillation. I was put on medication for a “weak heart” and went through 4 rounds of chemo between April and June.

If you had asked me what kind of shape I was in prior to all this, I would have told you I was in good physical health. I didn’t drink and had quit smoking 7 years earlier. In addition to my full time job I had a part-time job that required a lot of lifting and walking. What a difference 4 months can make in your life. At the end of June I was still on heart medication, diagnosed with mild COPD and couldn’t walk to the mailbox and back without getting out of breath. I had no energy and was scared to death of what my future looked like. I also weighed 220 pounds. I knew I had to do something to improve my health. I did not have a history of being any kind of runner. I played around with it a little back in the late 70’s but was never consistent. I thought maybe running would help restore some of my physical strength and, more importantly, improve/maintain my lung function. In July of 2006, I started walking…….

At first it was just to the mailbox and back and then a little more each day. As I walked more and more, breathing got easier and a crazy idea occurred – I should try to complete a 5K. On September 11, 2006, I did my first ¼ mile “run” on a treadmill and, to make a long story short – at the end of October I ran that 5K. Well, one goal leads to another and I made ever increasingly longer goals. Since then I have run several more 5K’s, 10K’s, a 15K, several 5 and 10 milers and I have completed 6 half marathons. On November 14, 2010, I ran the OBX Marathon at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Thank you for reading this far and please stick with me just a little longer. My cancer was discovered purely by accident (a requested x-ray during a routine physical) and at an early enough stage that treatment and recovery odds were much greater. I’m not usually one to promote causes but occasionally, because of my experience, I feel an obligation to address the issues of lung cancer and the need for additional funding for research. Lung cancer kills more than 160,000 people annually – more people than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer but approximately 60% of the people diagnosed today had either quit or never smoked. If you smoke, please stop. The sooner you quit, the sooner your body can start to heal itself. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.

Please support your local cancer groups and lung associations through donations and participation in the many running races sponsored by these groups. I’m proof that lung cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence. With early detection and proper treatment, survivors can lead a “new normal” life - and even run a marathon.

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