Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Running a Marathon in 50 states while battling Cancer – Don Wright

Don Wright

The Human Factor profiles survivors who have overcome the odds in confronting life’s obstacles.  People who have overcome injury, illness or other hardships in their lives.  People who have tapped into their inner strength and found resilience that they never realized they possessed.

The following are excerpts from the Human Factor which highlights Don Wright who developed a deep passion for running marathons, later in his life, before being diagnosed with cancer.  His goal is to run and finish 50 marathons in 50 states.

“I’ve made an appointment with an oncologist for you.” “These are words that no one wants to hear from their doctor, ever. It was multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer with a median survival of about five years after diagnosis,” Wright said.

“I had lost weight at Weight Watchers’, then started running, and had just run my first marathon. Myeloma attacks the bones, and a broken bone would stop my running, so I was determined to run the Boston Marathon before I lost the ability to do so. I qualified for Boston and then ran it, then a few more marathons here and there. I had no reasonable expectation of finishing all 50 states,” he said.

“That was eight years ago. I’m now 70 years old and since the diagnosis I have run 60 marathons in 41 different states, including the Seattle Marathon several Sunday’s ago. After some treatments that didn’t stop it, the cancer has been stable for three and a half years on a novel investigational drug called pomalidomide, just a pill that I take once a day. I’m a beneficiary of modern innovation and research” Wright said.

According to Don Wright, he has this incurable cancer, and his most pressing health problem is runners’ knee!

“My doctors are uniformly enthusiastic about the running as a way to strengthen my immune system and my bones, Wright said. “We’re not sure why it works, but keep doing what you’re doing.”

“We can’t know how long this treatment will continue to keep the cancer from growing, but for now, my family and I are relishing the extra time that I have been given, by traveling and doing these marathons together. They are a celebration of life!,” he said

“I stand at the starting line and get choked up, thinking of the people I know who haven’t survived myeloma, and how lucky I am to be alive and able to run a marathon. I can’t wait to start the race. Even on a cold, rainy day in Seattle, I enjoyed every moment. As I run, I sometimes imagine that I’m just floating along, drifting past the scenery. I feel wonderful, and we’re going for all 50 states,” Don Wright said.

Big Dog’s Hero of the month, Mr. Don Wright!


December 7, 2011 Posted by | Marathon Running | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment