Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

He Was Born to Run -- Cancer or Not

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

He Was Born to Run -- Cancer or Not

Article excerpt

Here's a story for athletes who, at the end of a long run, five

hard sets of tennis or an intense game of hoops, stop and think:

"What would life be like if I couldn't do this?"

This is the story -- sort of a romance -- about a man who loves

to run so much he writes songs about it, and nothing, not even

cancer, will keep him from doing it.

It's an exceptional story, said radiation oncologist Shyam

Paryani. But then, the doctor admitted, Joe Connolly is an

exceptional person.

Always health-conscious, Connolly didn't expect any bad news

when he went to the doctor's office in late November to get

results from a prostate exam.

At 6 feet tall, 155 pounds, he has a lean runner's body. He

watches what he eats and has concocted his own cereal with

oatmeal, raisins, soy flour, wheat germ and honey.

He and his wife, Jeanette, were so certain the prostate exam

results would be negative that she opted for a round of golf

while he was at his appointment.

But the news was not good: The 71-year-old Connolly had prostate

cancer.

His first concern: Would he live?

His second: Could he still run?

"It entered my mind that I was going to die," he said. "But I

figured if I could run through it . . ."

Without running, life just wouldn't be the same.

Connolly wouldn't be the same.

"I get depressed if I can't run," said the retired CSX

accountant, who lives in the Grove Park neighborhood on the

Southside. "A lot of men and women lie down, but I decided to

run through this.

"I couldn't see just giving up."

So despite the diarrhea, the fatigue and the weakness he

experiences from the radiation treatments, plus the severe heat

flashes he gets from other medication, Connolly runs 12 miles a

week, plays golf, fiddles in his yard and works out

at the YMCA.

"I think it's determination," said Paryani. "Not everybody has

that determination, and Joe does. . . . I've seen several

runners who continue with their running. It's an individual

course. But it has a lot to do with inner drive."

And, perhaps, pure love of the sport. …

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