Greymouth leukaemia survivor Josh Komen leads the charge on “Run for Rānui House”

When Josh Komen runs it feels like he’s wearing a suit of armour. Despite restricted movement, he soldiers on, willingly putting himself “in the hurt locker” to raise money for a cause close to his heart.

 On April 21 this year Josh Komen will cross the finish line at the Frontrunner Christchurch Marathon, competing in his longest run since being diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago.

Once one of New Zealand’s fastest runners, the two-time leukaemia survivor will join hundreds of others in the 10-kilometre race at the iconic Christchurch event. Josh won’t be vying for the win, but he is running with purpose. For him, raising money for Christchurch’s Rānui House is the ultimate prize.

“Rānui House and the people there were my lifeline – a beacon of hope during a very dark time,” Josh says.

Josh is an Ambassador for the Bone Marrow Cancer Trust which runs Rānui House, a 26-apartment complex that provides a home away from home for patients and their families undergoing life-saving medical treatment at Christchurch hospitals.

The Bone Marrow Cancer Trust is the charity partner for the Frontrunner Christchurch Marathon.

Josh and his family spent 474 nights at Rānui House while receiving treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, a type of cancer of the blood.  ”It was the most challenging and desperate time of my life but thanks to the support of the Bone Marrow Cancer Trust and Rānui House I am here today, able to Run for Rānui and give back to the place that gave me so much,” Josh says.

Josh says his training ahead of the event has been long and hard, but he’s been able to rely on his mental strength and recovery techniques to push through.  “Often, after my training runs I’ll get severe cramps, in my feet, legs, hips and ribcage. I have scleroderma, which is an autoimmune disease. It’s restricted my movement as parts of my skin and muscles are ‘glued together’, so that’s been tough.  “Before I was diagnosed I was a fast, physical person. Now, I have to let go of that. I use breathing exercises, a positive power phrase and visualisation to keep me focused,  acknowledging the person I am now. It’s about acceptance and working with what you’ve got.”

On competition day, Josh says he’s planning to “dig deep”. His coach, support crew and friends will be by his side – cheering him every step of the way.  “I’ll remind myself that I’ve been through worse. I’m still here, alive and breathing and I feel I have a responsibility to do the best I can, so it’s a privilege just to have the ability to run. I have two legs and a body so why not use it?”

Bone Marrow Cancer Trust chief executive Mandy Kennedy says Josh’s energy and enthusiasm to give back to his community is inspiring.  “He’s absolutely incredible. Josh has been through the most gruelling journey imaginable, yet he has a deep appreciation for life and he goes out of his way to make the most of every day.  “We are so excited to see him cross the finish line on race day and it’s been wonderful to see so many people get behind him. Dedicating your run to Rānui House will make a big difference to the people who walk through our doors. We know that for them, having whānau close by while they undergo life-saving medical treatment makes the world of difference.”

So far more than $49,000 has been raised through the Run for Rānui House thanks to Josh and close to 80 others who have joined up to the fundraising mission. You can donate to Josh’s run here

And, if you’re planning on racing – why not Run for Rānui House? Sign up to Run for Rānui.

More information about Josh:
Josh’s “Run for Ranui House” is a major milestone in his recovery journey. After being diagnosed with Myeloid Leukaemia in 2011, Josh went on to fight a 10-year battle of deep depression, a second cancer diagnosis, an allogeneic stem cell transplant, being put into a coma, developing graft vs host disease, multiple complications, treatment overseas in Australia for 5 years, all while experiencing multiple heart attacks.  Josh is now cancer-free and enjoys life in Greymouth with his wife and daughter. He appreciates all the “little things in life”, grateful for every day he gets to spend with friends and family.  You can read the Josh Komen story here:

About Rānui House and the Bone Marrow Cancer Trust .  Rānui House is owned and managed by the Bone Marrow Cancer Trust. The Trust was initially established to raise $1.1 million for a Bone Marrow Transplant Unit for Christchurch Hospital, but the Trustees knew the challenge was greater than that. They had to provide patients and their families somewhere to stay for the intense and ongoing treatments they were facing. They knew that if families can stay together, they can heal faster.