Running With Cancer


by Scott Kennedy

Near the end of 2017, I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Three days after my second chemotherapy session, I ran the Jelly Bean 5K in Newmarket, Ontario. It was my slowest race to date, but very satisfying.

Cancer is a scary word. I tell myself that it is okay to be scared, because fear gives us the opportunity to be brave. Whether we take one step with our foot, a running blade or a full rotation of wheelchair’s wheel, we must keep moving forward.

For me, “running” involves three key elements:

1. Physical Base: Regular exercise to ensure that your body has a foundation to take the stress over a journey (i.e. hills, speed work, long runs).

2. Mental Game: Envision the course, research the routes, understand the elevation, and plan for proper nutrition (such as energy gels, electrolyte drinks, and salt pills to offset nausea and cramps).

3. Emotional Commitment: How badly we want something. You may feel mentally and physically broken during a race, but you know that you need to keep going. 

I expect that this approach will help me through my cancer treatments over the next six months. I often draw strength from the running community: hundreds or thousands of people moving in the same direction, supported by hundreds or thousands of volunteers.

I joined the Running Room marathon clinic in June 2009 and since then, I have completed 10 full marathons. I would not have been as successful without the support of my coaches, the friendship of current and past members and the inspiration of strangers through all those kilometres. Running has taken me to races in many cities across Canada, the United States, and Scotland.

The title of this article is “Running With Cancer”, not “Running Away From Cancer.” The distinction is that when we own a challenge in our personal or professional lives, it cannot own us. I am working on a different kind of marathon now. I draw strength from the “runners” of every kind and the crowds that cheer us on.

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