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Stories of Inspiration: Why We Run

Sona Donayan
Pasadena, Calif.

Sona DonayanI first started running about nine years ago, to lose weight after having my second child. It began with jogs around my neighborhood. Over time I increased my mileage. Before I knew it, I was running full 26.2-mile marathons. I've finished 18 so far, including eight straight years in the Los Angeles Marathon.

Last fall, I received a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Since then, I've been fighting off the disease with help from the City of Hope medical team. It's a wonderful place, and I feel lucky to be in their care.

My doctor at City of Hope tells me that those years of running have helped me enormously in handling the aggressive treatment needed to battle lymphoma. And I continued, completing shorter distances on weekends between sessions of chemotherapy.

I had signed up for February's Pasadena Marathon before my diagnosis. Running is my sanity, and it's important to me that I keep racing. My doctor cautioned me against tackling the entire 26.2 miles. So, with her blessing, I arranged to run the half-marathon instead. It's hard for me to describe the exhilaration I felt after completing the course.

I'm looking forward to the chance to support City of Hope by joining in the All-Star Game Charity 5k & Fun Run this July. I want to be an inspiration, a ray of hope for someone else battling cancer.

The way I see it, marathons are about enduring hardships, and life is a marathon. I'm not ready to be done with mine.

Mary Pomerantz
Stand Up To Cancer

Mary PomerantzWhy am I running? Because when I see a "bad guy" that has hurt my friends and family, I want to chase that villain down. I'm running because cancer isn't going to slow down on its own. Cancer doesn't take vacations or go to the movies. Cancer doesn't care that you are getting married next week, or that you just landed a promotion at work, or that you were accepted into your top choice for college. Cancer doesn't care that your wife just had a baby. Hell, it doesn't even care if you're human...I'm running for my eight-pound dog who, believe it or not, is a breast cancer survivor. I'm running for my 90 year old grandmother who is also a breast cancer survivor and still bakes the best lemon cake in the world. I'm running in support of the SU2C researchers who, in their own way, are running as fast as they can in their labs to find treatments that work. I'm running because we can't sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to run for us, because we can't let another minute go by without doing something, anything. I consider myself very lucky; cancer hasn't claimed the life of a best friend or close family member of mine...yet. And I know all too well that it is a game of numbers. If I don't run now to help fight cancer, then one day I will lose someone I love. It could even be me.

Jonathan W. Simons, MD
President and CEO
Prostate Cancer Foundation

Jonathan W. Simons, MDMy entire career as a doctor and scientist has been dedicated to caring for patients and conducting research to end prostate cancer as a cause of suffering and death. Prostate cancer strikes one out of every 6 American men and is an enormous American health crisis.

Just down the hall, one of my closest teammates here at the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Dan Zenka, recently had a routine PSA test and biopsy that led him to a cancer diagnosis and then surgery to remove his prostate. With his early diagnosis and treatment, I believe Dan will be with us and his family for many, many years to come. Each year, 27,000 U.S. men are not as fortunate.

As vice president of communications for PCF, Dan has chosen not to be silent, but to share his story with the millions of men we serve through his recently launched cancer blog:

I am running for Dan, his wonderful family, and the thousands of patients I have taken care of over the years. I run because Dan is so courageous to talk to others about his story. Even at my slow, creaky, lumbering, jogging pace, I will remind myself with every stride, that we are going to finish this race - we will see the day when prostate cancer is no longer a problem for families, their fathers, grandfathers, brothers and sons. On July 11th, with the support of the MLB All-Star 5K Run in Anaheim, PCF's team - Zenka's Zoomers, will be sprinting faster to find a cure.

Rebecca Hultquist

Rebecca HultquistIt all started five years ago after a great night celebrating New Year's with family. The under wire in my bra had left kind of a mark under my left breast, and so when I was checking it I noticed a lump. I called my doctor and saw him right away. He immediately referred me to have a mammogram and ultrasound. This was followed up by a biopsy.

Never in a million years did I imagine that the doctor would call me a few days later to tell me that I had triple negative breast cancer. I started chemotherapy - hard core chemotherapy that was scheduled every two weeks to shrink the tumors before surgery was even beneficial. That's right. You heard it: tumors, plural. There were three infiltrating tumors growing in my breast. Surgery was followed by radiation. I was 33 years old.

I am a proud breast cancer survivor celebrating my 5 year anniversary this summer, and I Race because it is my passion. I Race so that everyone knows that early detection is important - it's the key to surviving and thriving. My three daughters, ages 15, 11 and 7, understand the significance of all of this. I Race, so that by the time they grow up, there is a cure. My family and friends race with me. It's not just the grandmas and great aunts who are getting breast cancer. Young women are affected, too. I was one of them.

Annette Parra

Annette ParraWhy I am running first of all to support cancer charities. I started running in 2008 trying to overcome a weight problem. I weighed 200 lbs. and when I first started I could only walk for 5 minutes I can now run 4 miles and I enjoy running so much that if I do not go for my morning run I just do not feel right. Iwould be honored to be a part of the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Charity 5k & 1 Mile Fun Run. Because I do run for fun and fitness.

Irene Vickers

Irene VickersOur son Nathan was diagnosed with Stage IV Testicular cancer at the age of 18 in May 2008. He has been fighting this disease for two years. He has undergone five surgeries three different types of chemotherapy treatments and radiation. He is such a courageous young man who never complains and inspires me to be the best person I can be. He keeps on living his life to the fullest. He is my hero. I wish for a cure for all cancers in the world so people don't have to die from this horrible disease.

Joseph Vargas

Joseph	VargasI have formed a team in honor of my beautiful daughter Victoria Vargas. Victoria passed away on March 1 2010. While cancer did not contribute to her passing I have resolved to honoring her by contributing to worthy causes in her name. For the 2010 All-Star Game Charity 5K I have formed "Victoria's All-Stars" which is a team comprised of friends and family that will walk to raise money for this worthy cause. Victoria's legacy will be honored by people coming together in her name to raise money to fight this disease which impacts so many.

Sheila Munson

Sheila MunsonI run for my husband other cancer fighters survivors and all the families that have a loved one battling cancer. I run to be one step closer to defeating cancer so that no one has to go through the pain and hardship this disease can cause. I run to "pay it forward" to all the people who have supported my family during a trying time of our lives. I run to make a difference...