Cliff Gibbons believes in miracles. In 2010, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer just three weeks after his wife announced she was pregnant with their first child. “Those nine months were the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows for me,” says Gibbons, 38, of Great River, NY. He was thrilled about the baby news but had to undergo six months of chemotherapy, a routine of six to eight hours of infusions, five days a week. The joke in the family was that all the attention was focused on him and not his pregnant wife.
He took up running in 2011 to celebrate his remission and newfound health. At his first 5K, he thought he was going to die. “I didn’t know what I was doing. It was dreadful,” he recalls. Yet at the same time, he loved every minute. “I felt alive,” he says.
So Gibbons stuck with running and came to enjoy it. There was an added benefit, he says: “Running was a way of getting the poisons from the chemo out of my system.”
Gibbons says that running the NYC Half will make him “a real runner,” and crossing the finish line will be deeply rewarding. It will also spur him on toward his next goal, running the TCS New York City Marathon in November. He’s studied the marathon map and is happy to know that Central Park’s Harlem Hills are not part of the course. “Central Park is a gem in the heart of Manhattan,” he says. “Now if they could only do something about those hills!”
There was to be one more miracle: Two years after his cancer, Gibbons and his wife decided to try to have another child. They knew that the odds were against them, but when they arrived for the first treatment, a blood test revealed that she was already pregnant.
“Charlotte is our miracle baby,” says Gibbons. With 3-year-old Cydney, his health, and a passion for running, he feels overwhelmed with gratitude. As he likes to say, “Life can’t get better than this!”