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From 3 steps in 10 minutes to 42 km...

When I was asked to write this piece I had no idea that it would be so complicated...

Thinking about what to write and what everything I have lived represents, it is important to look at all the details. Today, the four and a half years of treatment I received when I was 12 for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, is deeply enclosed in my life running races as it was in the period before I was able to run again. I have now achieved more that 20 years in athletics. From this point of view I share my story:

I remember that at 11 almost 12 years old, I suffered a really strong flu that caused lots of fevers and refused to go. I celebrated my twelfth birthday but the following week I was much worse. I remember that I had such a fever that they put ice on my body and transferred me from one hospital to the next...and finally we were seen by a doctor who informed my mother that I had leukaemia. The doctor explained that the disease was unfortunately very bad and that there was a 2% chance that I would get better and in all probability I had a matter of weeks left...

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Note that he said 2%!! But here I am!! And I keep on running!!
I remember the day that they had to get me out of bed to carry out a test. I had serum in one arm and a blood transfusion in the other. Never had it been so difficult to walk just three steps...

For exactly 3 steps, I took about 10 minutes before I sat in a wheelchair...Why do I remember that?? Well that is where my idea was born to run in athletics and run a marathon of 42km. A short time before this episode I had seen a film about a marathon in Italy called "The Games". I think that it is where I had the idea about running this race, the longest race I knew, the 42 km...something that seemed very difficult to achieve in that moment and all the more because there was a long way ahead...

Even though I was at this first stage of the illness and yet I remember asking my brother to tell me when he was going for a run in college. 4 and a half years of chemo passed, before it much more complex, I made many friends along the way... from some of them I learnt to see more of the joy in things and to fight this hard battle because if some who were worse than me were fighting with a smile then I could do it too...

The treatment had many ups and downs. My mother said "look, when you are in the hospital you are a patient but as soon as you step out of the hospital door that ceases to be the case; the disease stays inside and you have to have a normal life..."

We would go early for blood tests, wait for the results, then follow the guidelines and remedies and if we were lucky, not have to have a puncture in the back. Then it was important to get out as quickly as possible so that the disease stayed inside the hospital...

My doctor told me "Claudio, you have to follow the treatment rigidly" and all I wanted to do was run, but there was no other way... She had a boy's trophy on the shelf in her office and I always looked at it and said that if I won a cup like that one day I would give it to her. I said that because I would have to be cured first in order to win the trophy, and that is what happened.

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My life was as normal as it could be, I became accustomed to the hospital visits 3 times a week, and I would go to school afterwards as if nothing had happened. I wanted to be with my friends and even though it was a challenge to go it was more fun so I gave it everything I had so as not to stay at home. I wanted to be at school and I didn't want to miss anything. I passed all my classes and the only one I could not do was physical education. I hardly remember that today. I was always with my school friends and in that way I tried to forget a little about the disease.

More of less 4 or 5 years after some relapses and low days I reached the big day. The doctor told me and my mother, that I was fine and that I could finally practice sport. However I had to start little by little that was the rule, haha!! I always said I was made of bone, no muscles but still I had strength. Those years were gradually becoming the best of my life with my studies and athletics!!!

I spent 1 year training really hard physically, to not only be ok but to be in really good shape. Soon my first 8km race came around...after which my whole life became dedicated to athletics. The most wonderful thing was to train on the track of my university and afterwards going running in the area for a couple of hours. A year's training for each marathon, the first that I ran was like touching heaven. Towards the end I had cramp but I can assure you that no one could have pulled me out of that marathon. All the boy in my team at the UBA joined me for the last 10km... some of them were saying "come on, come on, you're doing well"...I was so tired but nothing and no one could have stopped me from finishing the race, and finally I reached the end. I especially remember that one because it was dedicated to all my friends that could be there, who I lost along the way.

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When I finished the race I told myself: "mission accomplished, I kept my promised!!" I ran the 42km, I was exhausted, but I had touched the sky!!! Lots of sacrifice but I thought that there would be other distances that I would run again... and so the years went by filled with many races.

After a while I heard of a 12 year old who had passed away because there was no donor. How could I help so that it wouldn't happen again? I thought that the best thing I could do would be to run and raise awareness about the donation of bone marrow. It is so simple to give life and nearly as easy as donating blood or platelets. I never got tired of saying it and it even has the message on the T-shirt I always use.

I am going to continue running with my T-shirt raising awareness about the donation of bone marrow in every corner of the world that I can. If I have been able to tell this story it is because there is a way out!! I still think that leukaemia has no stamina in the race. I can tell you this after 81 races (and 3 more 42km's) and more than 20 years in athletics. I always give thanks and today I am as thrilled to see people running as before...

Like we say in my athletics team to motivate us: Come on, let's go, we can do it!!!!!

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If I could run and have my life, it is because there were people who gave blood when I needed it, I always had my family, friends and good people around me!!!

In the photos you can see my third marathon on the 20th March 2011 in Los Angeles. Imagine that before, I was scared of the rain because of my illness, now I think it is a beautiful thing to run in the rain!!!

During this 42km it rained all the time and I felt great. For my friends that are currently facing this disease I am going to continue running for many years in order to raise awareness of the donation of bone marrow. If God is willing then I will go on to do the 42km in Buenos Aires and without a doubt the 42km in Los Angeles.

Warms regards to everyone and perhaps I'll see you in a race...


Help people like Claudio by becoming a member of the cure for leukaemia and haematological malignacies, HERE.  You will help us to continue our research so that one day these diseases will be 100% curable.  With only a little you can do so much. Thank you!

Find out more about bone marrow donation, HERE 

Webpage updated 05/20/2018 13:35:38