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'A second chance to live.' Longtime marathon runner prepares for first race in remission

Javier Cruz endured eight months of chemotherapy and lost one of his kidneys during his cancer treatment. Now, he's built his strength back up so he can do what he loves to do: run
Posted at 5:05 PM, Apr 05, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Javier Cruz feared that 2023 would be his final marathon. Now, he's getting ready for his 102nd marathon on Sunday in Bakersfield. The difference? It's his first race in remission.

  • Video shows marathon runner Javier Cruz sharing his journey through cancer treatment and his desire to get back to doing what he loves: running.
  • Cruz is one of over 2,200 participants in the annual 6K, 10K, half and full marathon races in Bakersfield on Sunday, April 7. 23ABC is a media sponsor for the event.
  • The Bakersfield Marathon is a Boston Marathon-qualifying race. The route takes runners all around Bakersfield, and organizers say they are still in need of course monitor volunteers.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

The annual Bakersfield Marathon is this Sunday, April 7. Over 2,000 runners are expected to participate in the 6K, 10K, half and full marathon. 23ABC is a media sponsor for the event.

One of the runners is Javier Cruz. In 2023, 23ABC spoke with him just months after he received his renal cell carcinoma diagnosis.

Then, he feared.

“The race of my life is coming because I don’t know if I’ll be at the marathon next year.”

Now, in 2024, he's cancer-free.

“It seems like I have given a second chance to live," Cruz says.

That second chance to live has allowed Javier Cruz to run in his 102nd marathon.

However this race will be different, it will be his first one in remission.

“I’ve been suffering emotionally, physically, mentally, and I have not given up,” he said.

He says after completing 8 months of chemotherapy and losing a kidney, he’s worked to build up his strength to run and finish the 2024 Bakersfield marathon…

“So, I started like everybody else. One step at a time," Cruz said. "The essence of no excuses. The essence of never giving up.”

"I'm very proud to run on the streets of Bakersfield."
Javier Cruz

Cruz says this year, he’s running to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to support local children in cancer treatment.

“It really became emotional for me once I met Matthew and Samantha.”

He says Matthew and Samantha, two local kids currently going through treatment, will be at the marathon to cheer him on. The cause hits close to home for him ever since he learned the treatment for those cancers could be more aggressive.

“More difficult than the ones that I went through. I decided to get involved in raising money for these kids so that way they can pay their expenses,” he said.

Cruz says although he loves to run, he loves his community even more.

“As long as I see them over there cheering for me, that will be motivation," Cruz said. "I’m very proud to run on the streets of Bakersfield.”

His goal is to successfully finish the 26.2 miles of the race, but adds if he can quality for the Boston Marathon...

“That will be an elation for me.”

The marathon says they’re still in need of course monitor volunteers for Sunday’s race. Information on how to get involved will be on their website or social media.


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