Never Stop the Run: A Father with Brain Cancer Races with Daughter and Reflects on His True Victory
Have you ever wondered what you would do with your life if you knew it was soon coming to an end? Would you spend time regretting the things you didn’t do or would you try make the most of the time you have left? Who would you spend that time with and most importantly how would you spend it with them? I’m sure we’ve thought about this on a regular basis. After all, our existence is finite. While that limitation may cause some to give up on living altogether, others feel the time needs to be spent doing what we would love to do right now.
For a man like Iram Leon, that time was coming around the corner. However, it is not time he chooses to spend grieving over the pain and suffering from his medical condition. Rather it is his motivation to be with the daughter he loves and cares for so deeply.
On March 14, The Huffington Post released a story of a man who suffers from brain cancer. He was diagnosed about 2 years ago shortly after turning 30. Now at 32, doctors have told him they are not expecting him to live before he turns 40 as the cancer continues to eat away at his brain. Furthermore, the cancer has imposed numerous limitations, including no longer being able to drive or work.
However, it does not prevent him from running, which is one of his favorite hobbies. To this day, he continues to run and enjoy life as best as he can…especially with his daughter.
“The one thing I'm not going to say on my death bed is, 'I wish I spent more time with my kid,'” he said to Huffington Post.
And so he lives by that vow. On Saturday March 9, Iram had entered as a runner in the Gusher Marathon in Austin, Texas while pushing his 6 year old daughter, Kiana, in a stroller.
Initially, it seemed to Iram that he would not be allowed to have Kiana in the race. In an interview with KXAN news on March 15, Iram admitted that the coordinators of the Marathon were resistant to the idea.
“They initially said no,” remarked Iram in the news video. “And then they said they slept on it and to let me in was a ‘no brainer’, which I loved the joke, you know?”
He was able to finish the race in first place in 3 hours and 7 minutes. It is his 7th Marathon to date. By the end of this race, he gave the medal to his daughter. However, it’s the time he spends with her, more than the victory, that he treasures the most.
During his interview, he said that he mainly checks with his doctors to see if he, “….can keep running and am I still fit to raise a kid? And, you know, everything else is negotiable and it’s a perfect day when they combine.”
News Video from KXAN
On March 10, Iram posted a blog about the run. Some of the things he described in his blog give us more insight in terms of what he was willing to do to enjoy the race with his daughter, including trying to repair the wheel of the stroller he used and contending with winds that blew at 20 miles per hour.
“But at the Gusher marathon, against the wind and uphill , with my princess and inspiration a step ahead of me, I ran on a highway even if I’m not allowed to drive on it,” remarked Iram in his blog.
Currently, Iram continues to care for his daughter as best as he can with the time he has left. In addition, he is also actively promoting an online fundraiser to send Kiana to college. The fundraiser was set up by the director of the Gusher Marathon and can be found at the link below:
It can be scary thing to think about death. It happens to us all and we know about it very early in life. Even so, it can be incredibly hard to prepare for it. We try to do so much with our lives because we fear that end may come before we get to do everything we’ve always wanted. The truth is that we’re living longer than we used to say 50 years ago or maybe even 20 years ago. Even so, the time we have here now is not enough to do everything we could possibly want.
So maybe we need to focus more on doing the things that are most important to us.
When Iram found out what was happening to him, he knew he had to take a serious look at what he was going to do with his time. This must be especially difficult considering the disease has caused him limitations on daily routines like driving and working.
Iram is a man who is only in his early 30’s, yet he is limited in where he can go and what he can do. It should also be noted that Iram is a single parent, so now he has some serious challenges to face when it comes providing for his daughter. Most people in this situation would probably be spending their time stressed beyond recognition. They would feel like the world has turned against them and become incredibly irate at everything. They would feel as if they have nothing to look forward to, making anything they used to love feel like a painful and miserable job.
Nothing in their world becomes fun or enjoyable anymore. Every day feels like a struggle just to find the motivation to wake up and get out of bed.
But Iram knows he can’t live like that. He may not have that many years left in his life, but the fact is he STILL has a life and most importantly someone close to him who shares it. Whatever decision he makes or action he takes she will remember. He is and always will be her role model. On top of that, she is a young child and like most children they dream of being happy and cheerful. They look to their parents for that. They have such an innocent view of the world and one day they will live in it on their own. And yes, the reality will be rough, but brought up the right way they can manage it and pass on the valuable lessons learned from their parents onto their children. From there the cycle goes and thus ensuring the survival of future generations.
But there’s more to this than a practical survival perspective. There’s the simple notion of wanting to grow up in life full of love.
Children love to be happy. It’s a feel good moment that they never want to end. Playing sports, swimming in the hot summer when school’s out, traveling to places they’ve never seen, hearing stories of relatives who’ve lived longer than they have. This is just a small list of what they love! Each of these things keeps them vibrant and learning something new. Most importantly, it makes them feel like they have someone to care for them. They don’t want to feel miserable or forgotten. They want to be loved and have fun!
Iram has certainly known this from the moment he became a parent. His daughter is still very young and can easily be influenced on how she will live based on how he chooses to live his own life. He wants her to remember him for the happy times they’ve spent together. He wants her to enjoy the things he enjoys in life, including running. By having her by his side in the race, she’ll remember the kind of man he is: a dedicated, brave man who’s not afraid to do what he wants to do with his life and share it with the people he loves.
It’s a powerful message that each of us need to absorb and practice in our lives. Perhaps we have more time to live than Iram, but the fact is none of us is immortal. Eventually our time will come, so it’s up to each of us to determine how we chose to live it.
Personally, I’d prefer to live it through a life of choice and sharing. My choice is to choose to do what I want to do regardless of my status in life or the limitations I may have. The sharing is to tell people what I love to do, why I love to do it, and show what I do to make what I love a part of my life. This is especially important when it comes to sharing it with my family. Some of you may or may not know, but whenever I submit my work, I have my mother read these articles not only for proofreading (and she’s quite good at that), but to get her perspective on the thoughts I have about the stories I write. She and I think alike and it’s become more apparent to us the more we share these stories with each other. My brother is another example. He and I are 12 years apart and when we were younger we didn’t get along with each other very well. However, over the years as we’ve grown, we’ve taken time out of our days to truly know more about each other. In fact he's living with me while he goes to college. There are a number of times we’ll watch a show, pause it, and then start discussing our thoughts about the things we saw. We’ve even taken Sunday afternoons to walk along a bridge that goes over a dam to just talk whatever crosses our minds. We have taken road trips together.
The time we have to ourselves is precious, but it becomes even more precious when we share it with those we truly care about. If anything, the people we let into our lives are a constant reminder that none of us have to face our fears alone. We are always in good company…we just have to let them in through the front door. We may be dying, but they are the ones that make us feel very much alive!
Iram has found that inspiration within his six year old girl who still has a lot of growing up to do. In turn, he has become a major inspiration to her and she will cherish his teaching when she becomes an adult. They will both remember this precious time together as some of the best moments of their lives.
Iram and Kiana began their race in life together the moment she was born. They are finishing it together with their eyes on the first place prize: love and compassion. That’s a race in life worth running, and it's one you never have to race alone!