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Marathoner raises funds through colon cancer

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Matt Carrera will run his first marathon to raise awareness of his father’s illness.

When Matt Carrera made plans to run his first marathon, he knew he would use the opportunity to raise funds for charity.  He never realized that the charity would become a personal mission.  But shortly after beginning his training, Matt got unexpected news.  His father was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.  Now, the 32 year-old runner and chiropractor from Rhode Island is training to run the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon to raise funds for awareness and screening programs through the Colon Cancer Coalition.

In 2009, Matt and his family visited Disney World, a favorite vacation spot for his family.  At that time, Matt set a goal to run the marathon and knew that, as part of his training,  he would raise funds for a cause. But a knee injury sidelined his plans and he back burned the goal.  In early 2010, after recovery from knee surgery, he registered for the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon, this time, with more support from his family. Matt registered for the full 26.2 miles, his brother-in-law Ken registered for the Half Marathon, and their wives committed to the Family Fun Run 5K.  Even the kids got excited to participate in the Kids’ Dash.  Training began, plans were made, and goals were set.  Then Matt’s dad was diagnosed with cancer.

The cancer diagnosis

Matt’s father, Jeff, had experienced no symptoms that would have made him concerned about a major illness.  But after experiencing some rib pain, he visited the doctor to investigate the cause.  He thought it would be a routine visit.  A series of tests revealed a mass in his colon, which began a confusing journey.  The determination included a diagnosis of adenocarcinoma of the cecum with neuroendocrine markers.  But according to Matt, “the diagnosis was unclear because there were many different possibilities for where the cancer originated.”  Jeff began his cancer treatment last month and is faring well.  “So far, there have been no major side-effects,” Matt says, “but my dad gets tired.”  Jeff will continue to get one chemotherapy treatment every two weeks for two months, then diagnostic tests will help physicians evaluate how to proceed.

His father’s illness has inspired Matt to train harder and get the word out about the importance of colon cancer screening and awareness programs.  He contacted the Colon Cancer Coalition.  He asked if he could use his marathon experience to raise funds and spread the word.  With the Coalition’s help, Matt set up a fundraising page and has begun raising money.

The fitness training plan

To get in shape for the marathon, Matt began working with Matt Forsman, USATF/RRCA certified marathon coach.  Forsman provides marathon coaching services through his website MarathonMatt.com and specializes in training runners who are raising money for charity. Together they will formulate a plan to help Matt Carrera reach a goal of completing the 26.2 miles in less than fours hours.  The Get Your Rear in Gear blog will follow Matt’s training and fundraising efforts.  Check out Matt’s fundraising page to learn more about his personal mission and to get more information about his father’s diagnosis.  Then continue to visit the Get Your Rear in Gear blog.  We will provide updates about Matt’s dad and follow Matt’s Forsman’s custom training plan to track Matt’s journey to the starting line.

Are you interested in running your own personal race? Contact the Colon Cancer Coalition to find out more about setting up your own fundraising page and setting your own fitness goals.