Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Doctor and patient find a way to run a marathon together, 355 miles apart

As he recovered from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and reconstruct his hip, Colin Jackson could only think of one thing: running his next marathon.

Jackson, 39, was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, in 2019. He knew it would be hard, but "not impossible," to start running again one day, and talked about this goal with his surgeon, Dr. James Flint. Flint was against the idea, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune he was worried Jackson would dislocate his new hip, and he "half-jokingly" told his patient he'd join him for the marathon.

It took a year to prepare, but on Jan. 17, Jackson traveled from San Diego to Phoenix to retrace the route of his first race, the Arizona Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. That was a momentous occasion itself: Jackson ran the marathon after losing 106 pounds. He was hooked on running after that, and ended up competing in seven more marathons.

Flint had to stay in San Diego, but the pair came up with a way to tackle the marathon together. Flint ran and walked 26.2 miles in San Diego, while Jackson and a support group did the same in Phoenix. During the 12-hour marathon, they kept in touch through phone calls and text messages.

Jackson told the Union-Tribune Flint has "made such a difference this entire journey," and he "can't put it into words because it means so much." For Flint, the marathon gave him a chance to reflect on his work and patients, while also "praying and contemplating how to better serve them."