Brain cancer warrior’s journey for life one marathon at a time

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James Auste founded the Cancer Warriors Foundation in 2000 to help indigent children with cancer.

James Auste founded the Cancer Warriors Foundation in 2000 to help indigent children with cancer.

By Cristina DC Pastor

A brain cancer survivor will be among the tens of thousands expected to run in the New York City Marathon on November 5.

By his participation, James Auste, 40, makes history as one of few exceptional brain cancer warriors who have run major marathons in successive years. Part of his “campaign for life” is to raise funds for Filipino children fighting cancer, also to raise awareness that childhood cancer can be cured, he said.

“I thank the Lord for my exciting life,” he told The FilAm.

In 2013, he joined his first world marathon in Chicago. The following year, he conquered the Berlin Marathon. He ran the Tokyo Marathon in 2015. In all these races, he would speak as an advocate about his “quest for children to have a normal, healthy, quality life.” The New York Marathon is the biggest in the world with more than 51,000 finishers last year.

“I have decided to continue our campaign for life to New York,” he said.

Auste was diagnosed with a rare type of brain cancer in 1996. He was 19 at the time, a Political Science student at the Ateneo de Manila who was very much into sports. He was part of the Philippine football team, pursued mountain climbing with determination, and biked as a hobby. He neither smoked nor imbibed alcohol.

“I was vibrant, active, and led a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

The brain cancer, which he thought would be his end, turned out to be his life’s starting line. Auste was later diagnosed with Panhypopituarism, a condition where the body does not produce enough hormones that control certain functions, such as metabolism and reproduction. He lost all his hormones while he was undergoing life-affecting cancer treatment.

‘I thank the Lord for my exciting life.’

‘I thank the Lord for my exciting life.’

The cancer brought Auste to Stanford Hospital in California for further examination. He remembered lying on the operating room on his birthday so that his doctor, a famous neurosurgeon by the name of Dr. John Adler, could get his biopsy and chart a strategy for cure.

“On October 14, my birthday, Dr. Adler opened my head and made a biopsy. Samples were sent to Mayo Clinic. After six weeks of radiation therapy I was declared tumor, cancer-free,” he said. “With the power of science and the miracle of faith, I survived.”

Having conquered two rare medical conditions, he set out to help others, focusing his energy on children with cancers.

He founded the Cancer Warriors Foundation in 2000 and has been running marathons around the world to help children with cancer from low income families sustain their medical needs. The foundation has launched a campaign to educate barangay health workers about childhood cancer and also lobbied for the reduction of the cost of chemotherapy drugs through legislation, according to its website. Currently, the foundation is looking to provide free chemo medicines for kids with leukemia in 14 tertiary government hospitals across the Philippines.

Auste acknowledges the need to raise funds for the upcoming NYC marathon.

“My challenge is I am financially unable to cover our travel and accommodation in this world recognized event because we come from a Third World country and the foundation has limited funds,” he writes in the website run by the Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, which funds cancer research.

Copyright © 2017 The FilAm

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