How to be Inspired by Great Running Stories—Part 3
Welcome back to the Inspirational Running series. Last time we left our story in Croatia. A former drug addict,from Croatia, Tadija Opacak, who had suffered from cerebral palsy from early childhood becomes a super marathon runner. As you recall, Tadija faced a major challenge in just moving his body. In telling his story, he states:
“I learnt to walk without assistance at the age of 4 and even then it was with a heavy dragging of the left leg and the left arm was good for nothing,” he grinned. 
However, his community provided comfort and help. It embraced his efforts to strengthen his body. The friends from the community helped him to improve his walking by practicing with him walking up and down the stairs of residential buildings. He persisted and became stronger.
He Overcame His Circumstance and Became an Elite Athlete
Now I would like to tell you about another story of a man who defied the odds. Don Wright is about to run his 100th marathon with cancer, while on treatment, and he’s 75-years old!
Story 4: My Life Is Worth It. Des Moines & Philadelphia . My LIFE IS WORTH IT (MLIWI) , a non-profit patient advocacy organization,tells an amazing story. A man is diagnosed with the blood cancer multiple myeloma in 2003 and given less than five years to live. Yet he defy’s doctor’s expectations and 13 years later, at 75, ran his 99th and 100th marathons. He ran in the Des Moines Marathon on Oct. 16th and celebrated his 100th marathon in the Philadelphia Marathon on November 20th.
Medicine, Grit, and The Right Stuff
It’s no secret that at times traditional medicine has been close minded and even hostile to alternative treatments when it comes to managing pain or curing illness. Some traditional medicine practitioners consider therapy strategies such as meditation, yoga, pet therapy, music therapy, game therapy, positive thinking, and virtual reality, as nothing more than voodoo medicine that dangerously delays the healing process. Predictably, some alternative medicine enthusiasts think their traditional counter parts have sold their souls to the devil and are only interested in prolonging your illness so they can make a fast buck.
Thankfully, these extreme views are not shared by most from the alternative or traditional medicine camps. More often professionals in the pain management business have come to realize that the cure or alleviation of pain or illness at times needs a multiply strategy combining traditional and alternative treatments.
On the other hand, modern medicine has made it possible for people living with cancer to go on with a full life. Such is the case when speaking about the story of Don Wright:
– 13 Years with Cancer
– 75 Years Old
- 100th Marathon Since Diagnosis
Powered by medical innovation, Don was able to realize his dream of running a 100th marathon.
“… Then, as I run, I imagine that I’m sticking a finger in the cancer’s eye and kicking it down the road.” Don Wright
This is His Amazing Story
In the beginning, as you can understand , Don doubted whether his goal of running 100 marathons was realistic.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” says Don. “We started out with one marathon and then another and it turned out to be fun so we kept going. We completed at least one marathon in all 50 states and then set a goal of 100 marathons, and here we are.”
“When I head toward the finish line in Philadelphia, I’ll be thinking of all those cancer patients still in need of more research and newer treatments. Just like running marathons, we can’t hit the wall; we’ve got to keep pushing medicine forward.” Don Wright
New Medicine Offers New Hope
Don credits a pill he took that was so new it was still in a clinical trial when he started taking it. It helped keep his cancer in check while he remained free to race around the US and into Canada.
In a CNN special report, Don States:
“One big reason that I can run with myeloma is a drug called pomalidomide. It’s just a little red pill that I take every night. It doesn’t cure the cancer but has kept it at bay for almost five years, without the severe side effects and clinic visits of regular chemotherapy. It’s a miracle drug for me.”
Later, however, the cancer showed signs of returning. This was when the treatment was changed to enable the pill to boast Don’s immune system. ”I have been on a new combo treatment regimen for a number of weeks now, adding a new infusion that stimulates the immune system to the pill I’ve been taking all these years, and so far so good.” 
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it“–Plato (427-347 BC)
A life Fulfilled
Don Wright continues to live an active life and inspire those stricken with cancer to carry on and not assume their life is doomed. Bob Tufts, fellow myeloma patient, former Major League Baseball pitcher and co-founder of MY LIFE IS WORTH IT, tells it this way: “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.” 
Just imagine this. You start getting back pain, and you go to the doctor. He tells you that you have incurable blood cancer. To say you would be shocked is, I’m sure, an understatement. How would you find the determination to not only go on with you daily life but to also run 100 marathons? I think Don Wright’s achievement is not only a testament to the innovation of modern medicine but also to a confirmation of what will power can achieve. Yes, indeed, I am inspired by the Don Wright Story, and I hope you are too. Are there people in your life who have inspired you? Tell me about them by leaving a comment. I Let their story inspire others.
As for the next post, I explore the healing power of hitting the pavement from two very different perspectives. In one case running becomes a saving grace for a daughter after her mother’s death because that daughter had an abusive father. On the other hand, another woman tells how running brings back memories of a beloved father. These opposite but compelling experiences inspired me to write a short story–with kind permission of a friend who told me about her connection to a beloved father–called “The Girl Who Missed The Rain”. I’m sure this is a post you won’t want to miss. So stay tuned and check out the continuing series that answers the question why I run. If you want to read the series from the beginning, here are the links:
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I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions.
1 Prka, Matija. “Defying the odds.” Student BMJ, 2001, P. 156. health
2 www.desmoinesmarathon.com and www.philadelphiamarathon.com
3“My Life Is Worth It Says Cancer Patient don Wright, Powered by Medical Innovation, is poised to Make History Nov 20th in Philadelphia.” Business wire, 14. Nov. 2016
5 “My Life Is Worth It Says Cancer Patient don Wright, Powered by Medical Innovation, is poised to Make History Nov 20th in Philadelphia.” Business wire, 14. Nov. 201