HIV+ Runner With Terminal Brain Cancer Has Completed the NYC Marathon
My name is Richard M. Brodsky. I am HIV-positive and I had been diagnosed with an advanced stage of brain cancer one year ago. Drop the Kleenex, now, or I¡¦ll drag you along for my daily six-mile run. I¡¦m a fifty-one year old marathon runner and I recently completed the November 2, 2003, NYC Marathon in 04:52. The only sad part of my story is that my wife Jodi beat me for the first time in twelve years. My purpose for running the marathon was to serve notice that AIDS and brain cancer do not have to be death sentences, as long as the AIDS medicines is provided to AIDS sufferers. I would also encourage AIDS sufferers and cancer survivors to lead a healthy lifestyle.
So I have
a few illnesses, big deal. Not nearly as big a deal as my 90th birthday
which is just around the corner. 90, call me a lucky guy, no argument here!
I have been blessed with strong legs and a will to live. Running the marathon
was tough; each stride in the latter part of the run was agonizingly painful. But,
at least I was alive to feel pain. Echoing in my brain was the pounding
reality that 8,000 people would be dying from AIDS today¢wone person every 11
seconds. I had no choice; I had to finish the marathon. 8,000 voices could never
be silenced. My having brain cancer could never be considered an additional
reason to give up completing the marathon. On the contrary, my completing the
marathon was equally necessary for cancer survivors. Positive thinking rules.
30,000 spectators demanded I complete the marathon. I felt like the hero of the day. Cheered on by the greatest sports enthusiasts from every walk of life, my final quarter-mile to the finish line was a blur between winning a gold medal and coming back from the dead to claim it. Thirteen months had passed since I had a seizure and was shortly after diagnosed with brain cancer. However, coaxed on by my team of doctors from NYU, LIJ and Columbia Presbyterian Hospitals, there was no way that I could not complete the marathon. And just in case I tried to wimp out on my commitment to finish the race, Dr. Casilda Balmaceda, my Columbia Presbyterian brain oncologist ran side by side with me to the finish line. A POZ magazine photographer recorded the event for an upcoming issue.
My wife, Jodi, and our three daughters have been very supportive of my coming out and sharing my story. AIDS need not destroy families. The fact that one of my daughters was just voted Most Likely To Succeed by her high school graduating class is testament to that credo.
My book, Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, is my gift to my wife for keeping our family together and keeping me a part of the family.
Writing and sharing my thoughts with cancer survivors and people living with AIDS has brought a purpose to my life. TV personalities Howard Stern, Sally Jesse Raphael, Dick Clark, John Walsh, Montel Williams and dozens of local radio and TV talk-show hosts have invited my wife Jodi and me to tell our story. Even CNN and the Harvard Medical Community have commented on my story. The Musella Foundation, a brain cancer foundation has also been very supportive of my story. The foundation has been accepting contributions on my behalf so that I may write a book about my life as a brain cancer survivor and how it is that I can still run marathons. Business has also been supportive of my story. JetBlue Airways and Hilton Hotels have been flying and accommodating my wife and me around the country at no cost so that we can promote our message; people can live with illnesses provided the necessary medicine is affordable. Wake up, Washington! Saving lives must be our #1 priority or the 21st century will be remembered as the darkest age of humanity.
Next time you see a person complaining about turning 30, 40, 50 and they are depressed, just think how lucky you (a cancer survivor) are. First, you¡¦re smart enough to realize the alternative of not making it to that milestone birthday isn¡¦t too good. Second, you need not worry about turning gray as that should be something you look forward to. And finally, you get to appreciate everything life has to offer so much more. As my wife says¡K
FIND PASSION IN THIS LIFETIME BECAUSE A LIFETIME WITHOUT PASSION IS NOT WORTH LIVING