RADJournals: Phil Shin's Boston Marathon Story

In a matter of days, I, along with 20,000 other runners, will have the opportunity to line up in the small town of Hopkinton to take a foot tour of eastern Massachusetts at the 2021 Boston Marathon. This year’s Boston Marathon will be unlike any other and I am so blessed to be a part of it, and it has nothing to do with the 26.2 miles we’ll be running. For myself it has so much more to do with the two years and the many miles I've run before even reaching the start line on Marathon Monday.

You see, on October 11, 2021, I will be running this sacred race exactly two years and one month after receiving a liver transplant that has hopefully cured me of a rare cancer of the liver. I received my transplant through a living organ donation from my good friend Mark who donated 60% of his own healthy liver to save my life. Mark's not only given me a chance to reach the starting line for Boston, he's extended my finish line in life.

Many believe that receiving a second chance to continue living your life is a blessing, and it really is. But as a runner I've embraced my renewed life as a second wind to dig a little deeper and explore what I can be capable of in both my running and in my life.

In my running, I've run more miles over the past 2 years than I have in any 2 year span prior to my cancer diagnosis. Some of this was through self will but most of it was through the running communities of my local circle of runner friends and broader running groups such as the RAD community who helped embolden me to run a little further, a little higher, and explore new terrains. Because of my running community I've become the best runner I can be, cancer treatment and organ transplant surgery notwithstanding.

In my life, I've become much more intentional as a father, husband, son, brother, and friend. I've also extended myself to include service to the cancer and organ transplant communities such as the Brave Like Gabe Foundation, the American Liver Foundation, and the Chris Klug Foundation who gave me so much hope and inspiration throughout my journey.

It's unfortunate that life's best lessons are sometimes taught when it's nearly taken away from you. But it doesn't have to be. You can easily find inspiration and clarity from your circle of family and friends to help reinvigorate your own purpose, and even your running. Seek that and then inject it into your everyday and see where it takes you.

If you're one of the 20,000 blessed to be running Boston this October, I bet it takes you so much further than just that finish line on Boylston.

I'll see you there.





1 Response

Martha Aarons
Martha Aarons

November 11, 2021

What an inspiring story. I can relate to your emotions of having a “2nd chance” and threat of having something “taken away from you” because I had a brain turmor saga myself about 23 years ago. Fortunately it was a benign tumor and in an operable location. I wasn’t a runner in those days, but I, too, feel particularly blessed every day that I am able to run because, like you, I’m blessed to be alive! I was also running in Boston with you; it was my 2nd marathon and everything I imagined it might be during the last 2+ years of postponement, cancelation and again postponement. It was well worth the wait. Kudos to you and the friend who saved your life along with all the doctors, as well as the running community and everyone else who supported you.

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