This time last year Rick Burke was preparing to tackle his first marathon in Australia. He’d already run marathons in New York and Boston but had never run on home turf, surrounded by friends and family. So he challenged his brother and a couple of mates to run the Melbourne Marathon. There was just one problem:
“I was quite sick leading into the Melbourne marathon last year, and then on the Friday before the marathon I just couldn’t get off the couch—I was really sick. I felt like I was letting a few people down at the time,” Rick said.
Rick found out that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His symptoms had previously been diagnosed as indigestion.
“I had been having chest pains. I had these pains checked out but because of my age (36), fitness level and where it was located I was diagnosed with a case of indigestion.
I had an endoscopy and that’s where they found the cancer. It had taken up one third of my stomach,” said Rick.
“Getting the diagnosis was tough. It’s not something that you normally think about—that your time could be cut short. So that was difficult to deal with. Really it was about not knowing what came next. I was really nervous about the first meeting with the haematologist and I was really nervous about what the side effects could be and what I would experience,” said Rick.
As the chemotherapy progressed Rick had to stop running and exercising, especially during the last two rounds of treatment. After six rounds of chemotherapy he was in remission.
He has spent the last 8 months getting back into running and living a normal life. Now he’s returning to his interrupted mission—running the Melbourne Marathon. He has just completed his third marathon, the Sydney Marathon, as part of his training.
“I actually did the Sydney Marathon so I know I have enough in the legs. I was going to just do 30 kms and then tap out or walk off but on the day I decided to just go at a comfortable pace and get through it, and I made it through,” said Rick.
Rick is running the Melbourne Marathon with a team of about 20 friends, family and work mates fundraising for Chris O’Brien Lifehouse
“I feel like I have some unfinished business. Running the Melbourne Marathon for me is about closing the loop. This will be my second marathon in Australia. It was going to be my first. I’m just trying to finish the year off with a solid finish in Melbourne and hopefully close that chapter.”