Four years ago in the shadow of Chicago’s Aon building, surrounded by 40,000 people, Chicago marathon runner Jeff Goad stopped thinking about cancer and got back to running his life.
“It hit me how unbelievably gratifying it was to just be there when I didn’t even know if I’d be around,” he says. “With cancer, your life revolves around all the medical stuff. You don’t feel any control over the things you’re passionate about. I refused to let that define me.”
Jeff was diagnosed in 2010 with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer in which malignant plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow, crowding out normal plasma cells that help fight infections and decalcifying the bones, turning them into what Jeff calls “baby swiss cheese.” It’s a disease that is usually detected when grandpa falls and breaks his hip. The average patient is in his early 70s. But Jeff was a week shy of his 50th birthday when diagnosed. He had run a dozen marathons, and was swinging a bat in a softball game when he injured his back. What he thought was a pulled muscle was instead a compression fracture in his spine that revealed the cancer.
“I wondered why me, as a young guy?” Jeff says. But his relative youth and good health has put him in a position to fight the disease on his terms.
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