“ We’re all just stories in the end. Make it a good one, eh?
Iram Leon is the racing mAss Kicker! After getting diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, Iram decided that instead of waiting around for the disease to control his life, he would continue running marathons and create new memories with his daughter. He is involved with: LiveSTRONG, Hawktober, Wonders and Worries, and the Brain Power 5K . We very lucky to find some free time in his schedule and ask him a few questions.
mK: Thanks for doing this Iram! What/ when was your diagnosis? How did you find out about your diagnosis?
IL: Grand mal seizure on November 5th, 2010. Grade 2 diffuse astrocytoma in the left temporal lobe.
mK: What were your symptoms?
IL: None before that other than spacing out for a few seconds here and there where I couldn’t seem to read, hear or even think in words.
mK: What advocacy movements are you involved with?
IL: Livestrong, Brain Cancer Research with Angels Among Us at Duke, Hawktober, Brainpower 5k here Local, Young Adult Cancer Survivors, Wonders and Worries counseling for kids whose parents have illnesses
mK: Who are your heroes?
IL: Just extra-ordinary people. My mom who did her first half marathon at age 60 so I’d do one with a stroller, Matt Cotcher who having had to relearn to walk and talk did a marathon, Amy Cotcher who after having leg amputated has done an ironman triathlon
mK: So, what personally motivates you?
IL: The basics, having fun one foot in front of the other with people you love
mK: When was the first time you felt like yourself after your diagnosis?
IL: During a race at the Thanksgiving Trot a few weeks after getting out of the hospital.
mK: What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
IL: I laugh at everything including cancer. The first thing that I said to the doctor after they told me I had a tumor was to rub some dirt in it. When the biopsy took over 2 weeks when it was supposed to take 2 days I kept joking around that I’d say the suspense was killing me but if something was killing it wasn’t the suspense. I went into the hospital for the brain surgery a few months later wearing a shirt that said “It’s not rocket surgery” and walked out wearing a shirt that said “Gave him a piece of my mind.” I have a hat that says no brainer. I cry and get angry at this stuff but somehow laughing at those emotions helps.
mK: What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?
IL: The most interesting thing I do is watching my little girl grow up. Her fascination with day-to-day things is something I try to echo.
mK: You’ve done some pretty cool stuff! What was the toughest challenge you faced as a survivor? How did you overcome it?
IL: I don’t know that I’ve overcome any of the obstacles whether that was my wife leaving two weeks after brain surgery and filing for divorce, or getting fired from my job for making too many jobs on the stand, or waking up in ambulances twice. But even if I haven’t overcome it, I’ve kept going.
mK: What is your guilty pleasure?
IL: Chocolate. Just old school Snickers, M&M’s or Reese’s peanut butter cups.
mK: Hee hee… What are your 3 favorite movies? Why?
IL: Lord of the Rings and Amistad are the only movies I’ve ever purchased actually. I just always loved the Lord of the Rings and something about Amistad’s chord of people trying to be free struck me.
mK: What do you like to do in your spare time?
IL: I don’t have spare time. I’m not good at sitting around. I volunteer places most days and just try to catch a lot of Kiana’s life.
mK: What are you up to now?
IL: Always getting ready for the next school thing and the next race. This time it’s a book fair and the annual charity beer mile.
mK: Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
IL: Don’t try to do it alone because you’ll end up alone and what’s the point of that?
mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
IL: I have an original Nintendo though I seem to play it only once every few weeks
mK: HAHAHA! Do you have to blow in the cartridges to make it work? Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
IL: We’re all just stories in the end. Make it a good one, eh?
Iram Leon: Elite runner, Chocolate-loving-Lord of the Rings Wizard, Nintendo cartridge puffing, inspirational brain tumor thriver. Thank for answering our crazy questions. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on what you do next! Check out his blog!