Outrunning Cancer

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Picked up an issue of Runner's World at Target yesterday. Wasn't planning on it, but the cover certainly grabbed my attention: an entire issue dedicated to "outrunning cancer," with a series of different covers featuring cancer survivors.

Haven't dug into all of the articles yet. These two paragraphs at the beginning of the issue, though, from the editor, really struck a chord:

Runner's World has touched on the topic of cancer countless times. Of the 60 people we've honored in our annual Heroes of Running awards since 2004, 10 of them have a connection to cancer. But until now, we've never stepped back to look broadly and deeply at the indelible and powerful connection between running and the disease that--despite a four-decade "War on Cancer"--will kill 570,000 Americans this year. As Writer at Large John Brant reports in "Team Effort," more than $650 million is raised annually by runners to benefit cancer charities.

That's an astounding number, but there's more to this than just raising money. According to a Runner's World survey, 17 percent of runners either have cancer now or had it in the past. For them, running is a form of treatment in and of itself. Some use it as a weapon for fighting back, others as a haven from the ravages of disease. Runner-survivors often talk about having a new appreciation for life, and a fearless attitude. Having faced down cancer, they feel they can handle whatever else comes their way, including running great distances. Conversely, having faced down 26.2 miles or 50-mile weeks or 10 x 800 meters before being diagnosed, runners often feel better prepared to endure chemo, depression, paralyzing fatigue, even the loss of a limb.

I've had a few things to say about this connection over the years -- and the word that keeps coming back over and over again is "endurance." In the truest sense of the word, you find a way to manage and endure, whether it's a tough hill workout leading up to the marathon, or unexpected complications as a result of chemo.


Train, endure, achieve, matter. As good of a summary of what Team in Training means as you'll find, conveniently available for review whenever I look at my left wrist.

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A Few Notes

robert (now and then)
(hover to see RKB in 1990)
After running two marathons in October 2010 with Team in Training, I've decided to "slack off" with just the one marathon in 2011.

This year will be in memory of Siona Shah, an amazing young girl who spent the final third of her too-short life battling leukemia with courage, grace, humility, and smiles.

It will also be in memory of my step-grandmother, Ruth, who passed away on June 15th after a recurrence of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

I'd originally started using this site to tell my story -- roughly eight months of treatment in 1990, as well as the impact leukemia had on me in the years that followed. Much of that story is still available through the "Table of Contents" below (starting with my initial diagnosis while I was studying in England).

 - Robert K. Brown
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