Going the Distance: Andrew’s 100km Ultra Marathon for Jacinta’s cancer journey

From a spontaneous half-marathon to a mission-driven ultra-marathon: A brother-in-law’s 100km pursuit for Jacinta’s quality of life.

Andrew laced up his running shoes in mid-2021 for a last-minute call-up for a half-marathon – little did he know that this would spark a journey leading him to run an impressive 100KM ultra marathon for his sister-in-law, Jacinta.

The mission? To raise $25,000 and make an incredible impact on the quality of Jacinta’s life.

After being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at just 19 years old, Jacinta’s cancer journey was followed by two relapses and a life-saving allogeneic stem cell transplant. Nine years on, Jacinta is still living with the debilitating aftermath of her life-saving treatments, facing graft versus host disease. The impacts of the disease on her lungs, knees, hair and tear glands make every day a challenge.

“Andrew has been there from the very beginning,” Jacinta recalls. “Even before he and my sister were together. He came to the hospital to visit when I first got diagnosed and has been supportive throughout my whole journey”.

In addition to emotional support, Andrew saw an opportunity to rally the community to provide financial support. “Asking for help is not in my nature, and I even said no a fair few times. But Andrew convinced me that the money raised would help provide me with a better quality of life for the future,” she shares.

Andrew’s deep connection to Jacinta’s journey fuels his determination to take on this epic challenge. “I’ve known Jacinta for a long time. Seeing the drastic changes in her health has been difficult to watch, particularly recently with a decline in her lung function,” he says.

As a health care professional and chiropractor at Tensegrity Sports Clinics, Andrew was determined to improve her quality of life.

“I think at times people around someone suffering can be so used to them being ill, and we just accept circumstances for how they are,” Andrew says. “The limiting factor to improving Jacinta’s quality of life at the moment is her financial situation. This is what sparked my idea to raise funds in three categories for Jacinta’s wellness plan – weekly appointments with a cardiopulmonary specialist physio, weekly sessions at a pilates studio and contributions to her weekly medication costs”.

To raise the funds needed to support Jacinta’s health journey, Andrew will be running 100km around Sydney’s Narrabeen Lake on 11 November. Hooked after his first half marathon, Andrew was proud of the goal he achieved and has set his sights higher and higher each year, getting him to his current challenge.

“I like to live by the code of ‘choose your struggle’,” Andrew says. “We all struggle in one way or another. Whether we have small amounts or large amounts, we all face adversity. It’s part of being human”. Rallying on the shared human experience of struggling at some point in our lives, Andrew notes that it’s a spectrum, “I’m fortunate enough to choose my own ‘struggle’ where many people are handed these struggles on a plate.”

For Jacinta, the outpouring of love and support is bittersweet. “It makes me anxious as everyone has their own lives, but it also makes me want to fight for life even more.” Her message for those facing health challenges? “Don’t go through it alone. My family and friends have provided me with the strength to get through each step of my journey throughout all the years, and I honestly don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have them. Lean on those around you and keep kicking as life is too short not to.”

With Andrew’s challenge fast approaching, he hopes his challenge reaches beyond their fundraising goal. “I hope this motivates others to set a goal. It may be physical, it may be emotional or mental, it may also be as simple as reading one book a month for a whole year. Whether it’s a small goal or a large goal. Pick something that challenges you and has an impact.”

The fundraiser has already surpassed the initial goal and is on its way to providing a year’s worth of support for the next chapter of Jacinta’s journey.

To donate or to find out more about Andrew’s 100km ultra-marathon challenge, visit the GoFundMe page.

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