Why I Decided to Run a Marathon with Stage 4 Cancer

Two friends running a virtual marathon in the countryside.
Getty Images/LumiNola

When diagnosed with metastatic (secondary) cancer, Sukhy Bahia grew even more determined to complete the Virtual TSC London Marathon.

In March 2022, her oncologist gave Sukhy Bahia the "green light": her cancer was in remission.

Less than six months later, Sukhy contacted her healthcare team about pains in her chest. Several tests later, specialists confirmed the pain as a symptom of Stage 4 metastatic cancer. Metastatic or "secondary" cancer is when the cancer cells spread from their original location to other body parts.

Before her second diagnosis, Sukhy was eager to return to her "normal." One way to kick start that? Running the Virtual TSC London Marathon!

But, after her diagnosis in August 2022, Sukhy was unsure whether she'd make the 26.2 miles. She soon decided she was more determined than ever, completing the course later that year.

When my oncologist signed me off in March 2022 after less than 1.5 years of treatment for breast cancer, I could feel the panic set in. She told me that my next appointment would only be in 2025! Three years seemed such a long stretch.

But, after a short time, my fear turned to relief. I could finally go about my life and start rebuilding my "normal."

I signed up for the London Marathon but was (thankfully, in hindsight) rejected. I decided to take part in the Virtual TCS London Marathon instead. Most importantly, I wanted to raise money for a charity very close to my heart - one that had helped me through my initial diagnosis.

The marathon symbolized more to me than personal achievement

And completing this marathon was so important to me. I wanted to challenge myself and challenge my body. I'd found solace in running when I went through my first round of cancer treatment. At that time, running had kept my mental health on track. Being able to complete a marathon would've meant that my body wasn't failing me, and, despite everything, I still had my health.

In all honesty, I wasn't sure I would be able to do it. But, eventually, my innate determination decided it for me; I'd be fine with some proper training and new running shoes.

Unfortunately, however, my "cancer-free" time was short-lived. I was diagnosed with incurable cancer in August 2022.

My second cancer diagnosis devastated me

At first, I was shocked by how I could look the way I did and have Stage IV cancer.

In the movies and on TV, Stage 4 cancer patients are depicted as pale-skinned, bald, weak with fatigue, and confined to their beds. I didn't match this picture - well, not yet, anyway.

I had been experiencing chest pain, which was confirmed to be cancer in my bones, along with multiple tumors throughout my liver.

I completely fell apart.

I wasn't sure how to complete this mammoth task I'd set for myself. What treatment would I go through over the next few months? Would I be strong enough to run a marathon?

Would I be alive?

And though they meant well, various people's comments added to the pressure. "Are you sure you can do this?" was one. "That's a really long distance; how about doing a half-marathon instead?" was another.

But I still had something to prove, so I pushed on

I had another few months of two types of cancer treatment. I wasn't feeling my strongest, but I decided that, yes, I would still complete the distance.

I needed to do the marathon to prove that I wasn't about to die. I didn't want to be seen as the "typical cancer patient." Whatever that meant.

And I did it. I walked 26.2 miles over approximately 10 hours. It was one of the most demanding challenges I have ever set myself. I know that without the support of my friends and family walking alongside me on the day, I would've crumbled halfway through.

Cancer patients can do extraordinary things, even in the darkest of times

I think a lot of the time people think that Stage IV cancer patients have given up and have nothing else left to give.

Yet, sometimes, Stage IV cancer patients do something so extraordinary, they give themselves a reason to keep putting one foot in front of another and live their lives as best they can.

The individual(s) who have written and created the content in and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen. 

NPS-ALL-NP-00877 MARCH 2023

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