Tuesday, January 02, 2001

Marathoner raises money for lung cancer research




By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Many running groups raise money for disease research, including for breast cancer, leukemia and muscular dystrophy. But marathoner Kevin Manley, of Hyde Park, is convinced the reason no runners raise money for lung cancer is simple: It is perceived to be a self-inflicted disease, a smoker's disease.

        His sister-in-law, Susan Manley, however, has never smoked. She didn't grow up in a home with smokers and never worked in a closed environment with them.

        Nevertheless, when doctors did a biopsy on a tumor in the Symmes Township woman's spine, they found a cancer that had originated in her lungs. Mrs. Manley, who turned 38 on Christmas day, is among the 14 percent of lung cancer victims who have no connection to smoking.

        After his sister-in-law's diagnosis, Kevin Manley tried to find a running group that raises money for lung cancer research.

        Nothing.

        So he decided to start something.

        Bumping around the Internet, the 30-year-old manager of a personnel services firm came across the Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy Support and Education, based in Vancouver, Wash. They didn't have a fund-raising running team but, over time, became receptive to the idea.

        “There's a stigma to lung cancer, so part of the problem is public awareness,” Mr. Manley said recently, as the family gathered at Susan and Mark Manley's home. They have three daughters: Cheryl, 12; Shannon, 9; Kaitlyn, 6.

        Kevin Manley took up running a year and a half ago, a week before the diagnosis. Since then he has raised about $50,000 running in the Chicago and New York marathons and in Cincinnati's Flying Pig Marathon. This year he hopes to run marathons in San Francisco and Tampa.

        The deal: Runners are required to raise $3,000, soliciting donations for each mile run, for instance. The group pays the run ners' transportation and hotel accommodations.

        “We're hoping to recruit 200 runners nationwide,” Kevin Manley said. “Obviously, the more the better; but we feel that's a pretty good target for the first year.“

        Susan Manley's disease started with lower back pain she chalked up to tennis. Eventually, a tumor was located in her vertebrae. When doctors determined where it started, the family was shocked.

        Lung cancer? It made no sense.

        Mrs. Manley, who is in an advanced stage of cancer,emphasizes that this effort is about raising money for others, not her.

        “Gosh, I'm not looking for a sympathy story,” she says, with a smile. “It's about lung cancer. The prayers, the notes, the meals, it's just been great. I guess I'm not supposed to be here. But it's not about me.”

       To get involved: See the Web sites www.runforlungs.com or www.alcase.org, or call the Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy Support and Education at (800) 298-2436.

       



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