Don Wright, who recently finished his 100th marathon while on active treatment for multiple myeloma, will continue running, but now with the support of the advocacy organization Patient Power.
Wright, who was diagnosed in 2003. will start his 101st marathon in June. In preparation for that event, Wright will run March 19 in the inaugural ShamROCK Half Marathon in at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix, Ariz.
“We recently featured Don in an interview on our online information channel for patients,” Andrew Schorr, co-founder and president of Patient Power, said in a press release. “I am blown away by Don’s enthusiasm not just for running, but for being a symbol of how modern cancer medicines make it possible for him to do what he loves. Don is truly running for us all.”
Wright began running after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer in the bone marrow, 14 years ago. For seven years, Wright was treated with a medicine that was strong enough to keep his cancer in remission. But last year things changed and the cancer was coming back.
Wright is now on his fifth treatment in 13 years. None of his treatments were available when he was diagnosed in 2003, which is why Wright is now committed to raise awareness for the importance of medical innovation and research.
The 76-year-old plans to start building muscle mass by adding speed to his runs and improve his heart rate by adding a set of sprints before his next marathon, which also should help prevent injuries.
“I’m powered by medical innovation,” said Wright. “I’m proud that with my new running program we are launching eRace Cancer 2.0, the next phase of our social media campaign to show patients and their families that there is life after diagnosis, and to show policymakers there is value in maintaining medical progress,” he said.
Nonetheless, Wright’s sports medicine specialist is advising Wright to take it slow, and to stretch what normally would be a one-month training program over three months. He stresses that Wright is still an elderly cancer patient and, as he has, anyone starting a new exercise program should check with a physician first.
Wright is not alone in his pledge and has the strong support of his wife, Ardis Wright, and his daughter Sarah.
“Treating cancer is really treating an entire family,” Ardis Wright said. “Our daughter Sarah and I get to travel with Don, and often run shorter races wherever we go. We are thankful that he has access to modern innovative medicines that have given us this extra time together,” she said.
After Phoenix, Wright plans to run 10K races in Philadelphia and Los Angeles before choosing a venue for his 101st marathon in June.