Ethan Zohn of Lexington, Cancer Survivor, Aims to Win the Greeley Tribune Marathon

Greeley Tribune Marathon

The Lexington native says he’s running to celebrate 10 years of being cancer-free — and to help others still fight the disease.

Ethan Zone. Anderson Group Public Relations / Ethan Zohn

Ethan Zohn remembers what it was like to feel imprisoned in a hospital room in a bitter battle with cancer, as the rest of the world turned to the outside.

“I would look out the window,” he recalls, “and see people just running down First Avenue [in New York] all the time and I’m not. All I wanted was to get out there, put on a pair of shoes and just start running. ,

That’s why celebrating 10 years of being cancer-free by taking a course at the Greeley Tribune Marathon later this month is an especially poetic experience for the 48-year-old survivor who grew up in Lexington.

“Running, and running in races, is like freedom,” Zohn told Greeley Tribune.com.

The marathoner, former pro athlete, and 2001 “Survivor Africa” ​​winner has been fighting for that liberation for 13 years.

Zohn was first diagnosed with CD20+ Hodgkins lymphoma, a rare blood cancer, in 2009 at the age of 35. Then, at 20 months in remission, the disease returned, forcing her to undergo another round of chemotherapy and another stem cell transplant. In 2012 doctors once again considered him to be in remission, and he has remained that way ever since.

Zone decided to celebrate her one-year anniversary of keeping cancer away by running the 2013 Greeley Tribune Marathon. He was on Mile 24—just two miles from the iconic finish on Boylston Street—when the deadly bombardment at the finish line knocked him off the course.

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Ethan Zohn running the New York City Marathon in 2015. Anderson Group Public Relations / Ethan Zohn

He ran the New York City and Seattle Marathons in 2015, but the race took a toll on him: “I thought, ‘I’m never going to run a marathon again in my life. It was tough.'”

After a nine-year break, Zone will get another chance to finish Greeley Tribune and raise money for AKTIV Against Cancer to help people battling cancer stay physically active.

He will also run to raise awareness of the benefits of medical cannabis and use Momenta products from the cannabis company Truliv, which has dispensaries in Worcester, Framingham and Northampton. His goal is to help remove the enduring stigma about cannabis use – something he credits with helping him get through the ‘post-cancer’ part of his life.

“When I survived, honestly that’s when things got really difficult,” Zohn said. “It’s the invisible scars, the dump trucks full of uncertainties, the fear that the cancer is back, just worrying about picking up the pieces and trying to live my life again. That’s when cannabis became a big part of my life. Really helps me manage my mental health issues that come with living cancer.”

Those hidden difficulties make Zone wary of characterizing people as they “win” or “lose” their battle with cancer depending on whether they live or die: “The reality of the situation is that there are millions of people out there.” People are living with cancer or living with the fear that it might come back, and that’s okay too.”

His father, whom Joan said had also run the Greeley Tribune Marathon in his days, died of cancer at the age of 14. Two Mondays from now, Joan will run to remember her, along with all those who are still fighting and doing their best to live with cancer.

“It feels like everything in my life is taking off at this point, in this race,” he said. “I’m putting a little pressure on myself, but it reflects a lot in my life. I’m so excited to go back to Greeley Tribune and run.”

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