When Don Wright was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2003, he denied it at first.
Runners often have unusual blood tests, he told himself. But he had cancer, and doctors told him the median survival time was five years.
Wright, 72, said he still likes to say he’s in denial.
“I know that I have myeloma, I just deny that it’ll be the end of me,” he said.
Since his diagnosis, the Lake Elmo, Minn., man has run 74 marathons. His next one will be in Mankato on Sunday.
He’ll be joined by his wife, Ardis, and daughter, Sarah. They accompany him on trips and typically run the half-marathon, as they plan to do in Mankato.
“They’re my support and I’m their support, I guess,” Wright said.
He runs in part to raise awareness for Team Continuum, a nonprofit that helps cancer victims pay for non-medical costs.
A long trek
Wright picked up the running habit from a brother-in-law, and was soon hooked.
“Well, the bottom line is that I love to run,” he said. “I wake up in the morning anxious to get my feet down on the floor and laced into a pair of shoes to go out and run.”
Cancer didn’t change that.
He was diagnosed about two weeks after his first marathon, in Duluth.
At first, he set short-term goals, such as running the Boston Marathon.
Then, not entirely sure he’d make it, he set a big goal. He was taking a steroid treatment with harsh side effects, but he decided to run a marathon in every state.
It was fun touring the upper Midwest, as they did at first. But he didn't fully expect to hit all 50.
“The 50-state goal was a pretty slim chance when we started out,” he said.