TAIPEI, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Ceri Lines, a 48-year-old British national who has lived in Taiwan for 30 years, has a busy schedule this weekend. He traveled to Taipei from his home in Hsinchu to claim the award of "Taiwan's top ten cancer fighter" on Saturday and ran the Taipei Marathon on Sunday.
Ceri has got Leukemia. From a stage where he can barely make it from bed to bathroom to running the entire course of 42 kilometers with 3 hours 9 minutes and 25 seconds, it took him a year and a half.
Looking back to the incredible journey, Ceri says in fluent Chinese, "Sports saved my life."
Ceri came to Taiwan 30 years ago with his parents who later started an international school in Hsinchu city, a science hub of Taiwan. He then started his own family at age of 23, marrying a local woman and giving birth to a boy and a girl. Now, he runs a print and web design company called Stormdesign.
Sports have been his all-life passion. He plays long-distance running, mountain biking, and Triathlon. He first ran Marathon in 2002 in southern Taiwan' s picturesque Kenting county.
"I didn' t finish that time, because I was inexperienced and Marathon is all about a well-prepared body and mind, especially mind," Ceri says.
Sports have also prepared his body and mind for a battle with death. Ceri was diagnosed with Leukemia early 2011 and suffered a critical condition in Sept. that year when he was administered second-line chemotherapy. Worse, he got so seriously infected that he lost immunity completely.
Though oblivious to much of his agony due to repeated coma at that time, Ceri still recalls, "Each day, I wished I won't be able to wake up to another day of pains. I never smile or even talk and I felt like detached from the real world but lived in constant hallucination the chemotherapy gave me."
However weak, in retrospect, Ceri believes he's still got a stronger-than-average mind which played crucial role in pulling himself off. "Running Marathon or playing Triathlon, one has to endure significant pains. I guess I'm more prepared for pains," Ceri says.
Years of Marathon training also improved his heart functions. He spent a period relying on inspired oxygen due to wet lung, with life threatened at any time. Ceri's doctor later told him he wouldn't have made it if not for a strong heart.
Ceri also attributed his recovery to his doctor and extremely caring nurses. With their help, he began recovering steadily from the end of 2011. "At the very beginning, I felt so weak that even a walk to the bathroom would kill me," Ceri says, "but whatever, let me first walk to the bathroom and then die, I told myself."
He then gradually increased his exercises and finally resumed running since March 2012. Asked why he persisted in running Marathon after suffering a grave illness, Ceri jokingly hints it is the middled-age crisis in play. "People in my age group all want to prove something. For me, I want to prove I am fine so that my family will not worry."
In May that year, He was readied for a spinal cord transplantation surgery, but later the plan was aborted due to a tiny mismatch with his spinal cord donor in Germany.
Without a transplantation, Ceri's doctor told him seven out of ten Leukemia patients would not survive. "But I tend to group myself into the lucky three," he says.
Two years plus two months have passed since Ceri's last chemotherapy. "Breaking the two year mark is already something, but until five years I cannot call myself safe," Ceri says. He is inspired by his fellow winners of the "Top ten cancer fighter award", "some of them have already survived for seven years," he says.
Ceri won the award granted by a Taiwan-based cancer foundation also for his fund raising campaign for a international leukemia foundation. He posted his story at a charity website, crowdrise, in the lead up to a Triathlon competition he participated in Kenting in Aug. 2012. He won the champion of his age group at that game, and raised fund worth more than 9,000 U.S. Dollars.
He plans to donate his "Cancer fighter" award worth of 50,000 New Taiwan Dollar (1,684 U.S. dollars) to the hospital that treated him for leukemia research.
"I want to do something for the people here," Ceri expresses gratitude to people in Taiwan. "I did quite a lot of blood transfusion, but I've never been short of blood supply, and I think it's amazing that statistically 80 out of 1,000 people in Taiwan donate blood."
Ceri is quite gratified with his performance in Sunday's Marathon game. Having browsed out his result on one computer set in Taipei's city government, also the starting line of the Marathon, he is a bit surprised and happy. "Now I am qualified to the Boston Marathon, the dream of every runner."
"Hopefully, next year, I can run the Boston Marathon."