NEW YORK & DES MOINES, Iowa & PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--MY LIFE IS WORTH IT (MLIWI), a non-profit patient advocacy organization, today said that 75-year-old cancer patient Don Wright is about to defy doctor’s expectations and demonstrate the power of medical innovation. He is scheduled to complete his 99th and 100th marathons since he was diagnosed with an incurable cancer 13 years ago, even though he is 75 years old and still undergoing treatment.
He’ll run in the Des Moines Marathon on Oct. 16th and celebrate his 100th marathon after 13 years with cancer in the Philadelphia Marathon on November 20th (www.desmoinesmarathon.com and www.philadelphiamarathon.com).
Even Don faces his achievement with disbelief. Back in 2012 he was skeptical about reaching his first goal. “When I started running marathons it was just for fun, and only in recent years did I think I could actually run in all 50 states.”
But Don did reach that goal of running at least one marathon in all 50 states in December 2012, and now he’s about to reach his new goal of 100 marathons with cancer.
“One hundred marathons means I will have crossed the finish line ahead of the cancer 100 times. At the starting line before the race, I think about all of friends and acquaintances who didn’t get this far. Then, as I run, I imagine that I’m sticking a finger in the cancer’s eye and kicking it down the road.”
NOT YOUR GRANDFATHER’S CHEMOTHERAPY
Don was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that affects cells in the bone marrow. When he was first diagnosed, treatment options were limited and the expectations for survival were less than five years. Thirteen years later, he’s on a pill to keep the cancer in check, and when the cancer showed signs of a flare up, his doctors added one of the new immune-boosting treatments to his regimen.
“These treatments did not exist when Don was first diagnosed,” says Bob Tufts, fellow myeloma patient, former Major League Baseball pitcher and co-founder of MY LIFE IS WORTH IT. “Most people cannot run marathons, but Don runs to raise awareness of the medical advances that have changed the lives of patients like himself, to encourage other patients when they hear that frightening diagnosis, and to fight for continuing medical progress for those with cancers that remain more difficult to treat.”
IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR
“The timing of the diagnosis had special significance for our family,” says Ardis Wright, Don’s loving wife of 53 years. She adds, “My father was diagnosed with acute leukemia when he was 62. He lived only five more years. When Don was diagnosed with another blood cancer, myeloma, also at age 62 – I saw my own life heading toward a tragic turn. But instead I am grateful that the marvelous medication that my husband started as part of a clinical trial, is now approved for use, giving many more people the possibility of a quality of life that we continue to celebrate.”
Don is recapping all of his marathons under his eRace Cancer social-media banner www.facebook.com/ERACECANCER/, and twitter.com/eRaceCancer. Since 2011 eRace Cancer has been raising awareness of multiple myeloma and the value of medical innovation.