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“I couldn’t let cancer rob me of my dreams”: Kerala Marathon runner beats blood cancer

Ashraf M A with the medals and trophies which he won over the years. Photo By: Manikandan Poickadan

Ashraf M A is a dish TV repair mechanic who has triumphed over blood cancer to pursue his passion for marathon running. People of Muvattupuzha in Kerala fondly call him “Ashraf Marathon” as he could win several titles, overcoming the challenges that life threw at him at the age of 58.

Though Ashraf loved athletics from his school days, he discovered his love for long-distance marathon when he started jogging along with his friend to stay fit in 2000. While his friend quit the daily routine, Ashraf continued enjoying every moment of it. He started participating in marathon competitions from 2016 and went on to win over 100 titles from over 100 competitions. However, his world turned upside down when he was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2017.

“During a marathon competition in 2017, I collapsed and was admitted to the hospital. Doctors who conducted a series of tests found out that I had blood cancer. I was devastated when I heard the news. I felt that it was the end for me. I was advised to quit running and take rest. But I wasn’t ready to give up,” Ashraf told “Open Digest.”

Despite the challenges that lay ahead, Ashraf refused to let cancer dictate the course of his life. Supported by his family, friends, and medical team, he embarked on an arduous journey of treatments and counselling sessions.

“My family, friends, neighbours, and people of Muvattupuzha pooled in money for my treatment. They stood by me, offering their support,” he said. Despite the debilitating effects of his treatment, Ashraf remained steadfast in his resolve to beat cancer and return to the marathon circuit, stronger than ever before. “It was a tough battle, both physically and emotionally. But I knew that I couldn’t let cancer rob me of my dreams,” Ashraf said.

After nine months of intensive treatment and rehabilitation, Ashraf emerged victorious, his cancer in remission. Determined to reclaim his life, he resumed his training regimen. Ashraf now practices at the Muvattupuzha municipal stadium from 6 am to 8 am, running 20 kms per day, preparing for the next competition.

“I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of my family, friends, and community. Their encouragement kept me going, even when the odds seemed stacked against me,” Ashraf said.

As he looks toward the future, Ashraf remains committed to inspiring others facing similar challenges to never give up hope and to pursue their dreams relentlessly, no matter how daunting the obstacles may seem.

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