This is a guest post by Jackie Clark, who blogs for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance's blog. Jackie has a personal blog, Jackie's Arc, that shares health and fitness tips. Jackie has been participating in charity marathon running for the past 3 years. To stay in shape she runs 5-6 times a week either outside or at her local gym. Feel free to contact Jackie with any questions @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many people take their good health for granted. Until recently, I never thought anything at all about being able to take a deep breath or get up out of bed, feeling ready to take on the day. However, people who are battling cancer often struggle just to maintain a halfway normal routine. Some days they cannot get out of bed at all. Because they cope with so many physical demands of their illness, they cannot go out in the public and fight for awareness and research funding to help find a cure for cancer. People like me are needed to advocate for these patients.
I like to run charity races for cancer patients. My family has witnessed several relatives fight cancer, as a matter of fact. My great-uncle, who served in the Navy, developed mesothelioma and lost his battle against it. His cancer, as with so many other mesothelioma patients, left him unable to breathe, eat, and go to the bathroom unassisted as the disease progressed. When I run these races, I keep him in mind, knowing that each mile I conquer makes a difference in the lives of patients like my uncle.
These races are important. They help raise funds for cancer research, and they also provide money for basic necessities for patients and their families. Without this funding, a cancer patient's survival rate may not be as high as what it is now. In fact, in most cases if the cancer is caught early, a patient has a very good chance of surviving the illness. As the website www.breastcancermarathon.com indicates, with 100% of money going to research and assistance programs, cancer patients need us to keep racing.
But people often ask me what I get out of participating in these events. Why would I continue to run if I myself do not have cancer? I participate for many reasons; the most important being that because of my relatives, I know firsthand how the disease affects people. I would rather run and raise money than sit idly by, hoping that others continue to advocate.
Second, scientific studies have shown that exercise is an important part of keeping cancer and other diseases away. By keeping fit, if I ever do develop cancer, I can fight it better by having a healthy and fit body rather than one that is out of shape and unhealthy. Running is a fun way to advocate for people who have no way to advocate for themselves. It also gives me the benefit of staying in shape and having fun running with others. Yes, it is a physically demanding activity, but the rewards of running general charity races outweigh the physical efforts of them.