Sidharth Ghosh didn’t allow a diagnosis of cancer and multiple injuries interfere with his passion for running. Read about why this IT professional, biker, sportsman and a runner ran the ADHM 2017, despite the pollution. 

The ADHM is a very special event, that takes place once a year. Despite the pollution warnings, I decided to go ahead with my run. This was even more challenging, since I was nursing a left ankle and right knee injury. But I didn’t let that get in the way. In fact, I decided that I would simply adapt my running pace to suit my body’s condition.

I’ve seen enough runners pushing themselves so hard, that they end up with injuries. Cancer has taught me to respect my body, and care for it. Based on my injuries, I allowed myself some extra time, to complete my run this year, finishing it in 2.15 Vs 1.58 last year.

Passionate about sports

I have been into sports throughout my life. In school, I played football and cricket, and for the past decade, I have also run marathons.  To me running is like meditation, the only time that I purely spend with myself.

After a long run when you are physically tired, it’s the perfect time to introspect. You can think about you what you’ve achieved in the past, how you could have done better, and what your future plans look like.

Life after cancer

After running a full marathon in Mumbai in Jan 2014, I was shocked to learn that I had a rare type of cancer in the right kidney. In March 5, 2014, I had an operation to resolve this, and ended up without one kidney.

For a month after the surgery, I was too weak to stand, even for ten minutes. The thought of not being able to hit the running track again,  was devastating.

But here I am, back to running marathons. In fact I ran a full marathon just after 11 months of my surgery. A friend looked at me and said “Milkha Singh was called a flying sikh from today you will be called flying Sid”. I think this was the most motivating compliment I have ever received, because Milkha Singh is man I look up to for inspiration.

From walking, to running a marathon

Four months after my operation, I began doing 5-10 minute walks. By the 5th month I started to jog, and by the 6th, I was running.  Some days were harder than others. I had no stamina, or suffered pain at the surgery site. But my mind was very clear on what I want to achieve.

I ran Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on Nov 23rd 2014. I continued my running and reached Mumbai again in Jan 2015 to run another full marathon. I did not want to give up and finally not only ran but even completed the full marathon.

My mission is to spread the message to people that cancer is not a dead end. The word cancer itself is so scary that people tend to lose the battle even before it starts. Other survivors should know that If I can do it, why can’t they?

fighting cancer
Battling cancer with a smile.

My preparations are different

Training is very different for someone with my condition. I have had to adapt my routine, to my body. So, I’ve been training alone for the past 7 years. In a group situation, you’re judged by your timing.

But the days I was more worried about the clock than my run are long past. Now, my first priority is to complete the marathon injury free. The second is the sense of achievement, and the third is the timing.

Due to major complications of surgery, I still have some injury in my core, which restricts me from doing strenuous core training. Also, I need to wear a belt while I am running, which is uncomfortable.  But I have learned to live with it.

Restless before Race Day but never gives up

The night before the race-day is as a restless one. I feel like I’m going to appear for a board exam. But, I try my best to keep my calm. Once I start running, I feel fine. The energy of the people around me pumps me to give my best shot.

I went from falling down to a physical state where I could barely stand for a few minutes, to getting back to a condition fit enough to run 42 kms. This was an emotional journey for me. But at no point did I consider giving up.

The journey from then, to now, has been a memorable one, and also full of learning from my own experiences and those of others. The 70 days I spent recovering at home, gave me enough time to think about my strengths and weaknesses, and also work on them.

It’s my strong belief that willpower and focus towards achieving your goals is only what matters. You might come across many hurdles on your way, but NEVER GIVE UP!

Sidharth Ghosh works as a motivational speaker and helps raise funds and medicines for Cancer NGOs like Cansupport, Cankids, Roko Cancer and Cancer Care India.