“You have been working for a while now. When is your retirement?” Thangaprasad is tired of these questions. But he never showed his irritation. “Life is moving so fast. I am 69 now. It’s been a while since I retired,” he would tell everyone laughingly.
The life of this retired Assistant General manager of SBT in Thiruvananthapuram is a testimony as to how to overpower an illness and live life to the fullest. He is a cancer survivor. He was suffering from two types of cancer. One of his kidneys was also removed.
“When I started running, cancer too realised it was futile to fight with me and left me,” he says.
He was diagnosed with cancer twice. In 2013 he had an infection in the kidney and one kidney had to be removed. The very next year he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. And in 2017, he was once again diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Usually, such people are known to be cautious and not venture outside their homes. But Thangaprasad had a different idea. He decided to run. Perhaps one can say that he restarted his childhood habit.
He would reach the Thiruvananthapuram Chandrasekhar stadium at 6 am. And would run 25 rounds. Initially, he wasn’t able to even cover 10 rounds. Now he can go up to 25 rounds, up to 10 kilometers.
He has an old runner’s story to share as well. In 1972 he participated in the 10k meter marathon at Kerala Marathon held at the Kollam Fathima Mata National College and won with flying colours. Though he did participate in a few other long-distance running competitions, that chapter in his life started fading once he became a bank employee. When he was diagnosed with cancer he realised that lack of exercise is one reason for cancer. He decided to restart running with the permission of his doctors. He continued his treatment and took medicines regularly.
“Maybe I was a former athlete. But our body has forgotten all that. Today I am an ordinary man. So I started with the basics.” This was his advice. That’s how he started running. Gradually his health started getting better, along with his self-confidence.
He realised that his illness was slowly leaving his body. Even now he lives with caution. When he decided to participate in a mini-marathon, his family prohibited him. But he started strengthening his mind. In Kochi and Bangalore, he participated in four half marathons. He coolly ran a distance of 21.1 km. At the Kerala masters meet in the long-distance running competition, he won the gold and silver. He is eyeing the full marathon in Delhi that is to be held on February 26th next. He was to cover 42.2 kilometers. Currently, he is preparing for that marathon.
According to Thangaprasad indigestion caused cancer in him. After retirement, there was a change when he started running in his second year. Running helps every cell to work and increases muscle strength. All memory and attention were restored. “My wealth is a strong heart and muscles,” he says.