Boyle planned to run a marathon in 2011, and that March he finished a half-marathon. After the race he became sick, developing stomach pains that prompted a visit to the emergency room at Wood County Hospital. That’s when doctors discovered a tumor in his right kidney growing into his circulatory system.
A whirlwind of emotions accompanied a flurry of medical action.
After a major surgery at Cleveland Clinic, he developed a blood clot in his left leg which caused his leg to swell to double its size. He was treated for the clot, but a doctor told him running wasn’t possible.
The news was devastating, threatening to take away the thing that made him feel “really alive.” He used a walker to get around, and he slowly built up his strength despite the leg pain.
In time, he started to run, though his pace was much slower. By September, 2011, he finished another 5-kilometer race and worked to build up his miles.
Summer, 2012, brought another setback. His kidney cancer had traveled to his lungs, prompting more intensive treatments.
Through it all, he ran when he could, finding solace in those strides.
Every four months he undergoes scans to check the disease’s progression. In November, his Cleveland Clinic medical oncologist Dr. Brian Rini told Boyle that the tumors in his lungs were still growing - albeit slowly - and he would soon have to start treatment.
He’ll begin an immunotherapy regimen in mid-February, and the side-effects - fatigue, joint pain, inflammation - will make running difficult.
If he wants to do a marathon, he needs to do it now.
Boyle and his friends embraced the challenge. He increased his training and at least three of his friends volunteered to run alongside him. Rini, a veteran of four marathons who often chats with his patient about their mutual love of running, agreed to join the unconventional run too.
“It’s not even a physical thing, it’s more mentally to try to cross it off the list,” Rini said. “He’s like me, once you decide to do something … you are going to accomplish (it).”
That determination is inspirational.
“He’s amazing,” Rini said.
The runners will start and end the marathon at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, where Boyle and Gorski started a youth group. Boyle expects other friends and a couple students he’s taught to run with him for parts of the marathon.