Cancer survivor turns to running after diagnosis

Marcus Gutierrez By Marcus Gutierrez

Feb. 16, 2017 at 3:42 p.m.
Updated Feb. 17, 2017 at 3:48 p.m.

Cancer survivor Abe Ajrami trains for the Citizens Run Against Cancer half-marathon and 5K.

Cancer survivor Abe Ajrami trains for the Citizens Run Against Cancer half-marathon and 5K.   Angela Piazza for The Victoria Advocate

Abe Ajrami started running last year in March.

But before he took up running, he used to have a different view of people on the treadmill at the gym.

"When I used to go to the gym, I would always walk right past the treadmills and thinking nothing of it," said the 50-year old Victoria resident. "I would just go to the machines and work out, but things changed after my accident."

While on a family Christmas trip in Utah in 2010, Ajrami fell and injured his shoulder while skiing.

After visiting a doctor in Utah, Ajrami was told there was no structural damage to his shoulder, but he still felt pain and visited his physician in Victoria.

Doctors found a tumor in his upper arm.

"I was shocked," Ajrami said. "I have never spent a day in my life in the hospital. I have always been healthy throughout my life."

Two years later, Ajrami was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma.

After one radiation treatment to his left upper arm at Citizens Cancer Center, chemotherapy, two surgeries, a stem cell transplant and another radiation at MD Anderson in Houston, Ajrami couldn't do any heavy lifting with his arm.

"In January, I had my last surgery and now I have a bionic arm now. It's all metal," Ajrami said. "I'm a very active person so I had to find something I could do that didn't have any major lifting. Cancer forced me to start running."

Ajrami will be running in the Citizens Run Against Cancer half-marathon and 5K on Feb. 25.

"This will be my third half- marathon, and I'm excited that it's here in Victoria for a great cause," Ajrami said. "There is so much research that needs to be done, but it requires funding. It's great that we have so many people running so that we can help find a cure for cancer. The tremendous discovery and cure for cancer are around the corner."

Ajrami is a spokesman for the Victoria Islamic Center and runs his own staffing agency.

"Citizens has been great here in Victoria," Ajrami said. "I had a radiation treatment here and it was wonderful. The staff was great, the facilities are modern, and it was a really great experience for me. It's great that both entities signed a collaborative agreement recently, and it's only going to help people in Victoria with cancer."

Ajrami also joined the Victoria Area Road Runners Association (VARRA).

"I was out running a 5K at Riverside and I met members of VARRA and they invited me to join them," Ajrami said. "They give great tips, and it's just a great group of people."

Cancer doesn't bother Ajrami. He takes the challenge head on every day.

"I want to beat the odds of cancer," Ajrami said. "I want to stay healthy for myself, my kids and my wife. They mean everything to me and they will be cheering me on."

Ajrami's wife, Heidi, and children Hannah, Rami and Jenin will be at the second station cheering him on.

"It's going to be great to see them there for me," Ajrami said. "I'm going to show off a little when I pass by them because after that stop, I'm going to be tired."

Ajrami is ready to put his body through another challenge.

"Better to light a candle than curse the darkness. So I guess running is my way to stick my tongue out at cancer."



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