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Running towards light - story of a cancer-riddled marathon runner

Pub Date:2020-07-13 09:10 Source:Xinhua

Bathing in the warmth of the South China sun, He Ming finished the Xiamen International Marathon in less than six hours. But in the first 54 years of his life, the word "marathon" never occured to him.

In the last three years, the Anhui-born He ran 61 races, with the Xiaman Marathon being his very last.

Having never considering taking up the sport before, He picked up marathon running as a weapon against his lung cancer which he was diagnosed with at 54.

"I could not change the length of my life, but I can get hold of the width of it," said He, who set the goal to run 100 marathons.


"Stage 4 lung cancer. He has three months to live."

In April 2016, the diagnosis from He Ming's doctor left his family in despair.

In his wife Zhang Liling's eyes, He was a stylish man. He used to enjoy playing guitar and singing Teresa Teng's songs. Standing 187cm tall, he was once a fashion model for a local company.

Until the deadly disease left him fragile with both lungs half-covered by fluid, coughing up blood and dyspnea.

"He could not go up the stairs, not even leaning on me with his arm around my shoulder," his wife Zhang said.

"I just collapsed. I couldn't believe I will be gone in three months," He said in an interview.

Although he tried to hide his pain and despair, putting up an brave face in front of his family, his wife could feel it. "He was awake all night, staring at the screen of his phone, checking information about his illness online."

Hospitalization, chemotherapy and anti-cancer drugs, the physical pain and mental pressure caused by the illness began to encroach on the Huainan native. He soon lost nearly half of the 100kg weight he used to carry.

"His face was puffy, his back full of pustules. He could neither walk nor do any other things," Zhang recalled with tearful eyes.

But the suffocating air in the hospital was what killed him the most.

"Lying on bed in the hospital is like waiting for death to come," He told his wife.

Secretly, he tried to walk out of the ward, and later the hospital, when his family were not with him at the hospital. He believed exercising could help improve his immune system and in turn fight the disease.

It was hard at the beginning, his legs trembling, moving a single step added to his breathing difficulties. But day after day, his slim silhouette began to appear a long distance away from the hospital. Then he began to run slowly, over even longer distances.


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