Resilience and Determination Amid Health Challenges
- A man, 33, living with cerebral palsy, who has a “76% disability” affecting the left side of his body, managed to become the first man on earth with a 76% disability to complete a marathon. Alex Campillo has lived with herpetic viral encephalitis (cerebral herpes) since he was six months old. Despite being given a short life expectancy, his resiliency continues to stun doctors.
- Cerebral palsy is “a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains. Common symptoms include stiff or tight muscles, limb weakness, and involuntary movements.
- Although cerebral palsy is incurable, several therapies exist to help manage symptoms and improve your quality of life. These therapies include physical and occupational therapy, which helps with muscle strength and mobility, and speech and recreation therapy, which helps with communication and cognitive skills.
- Campillo adopts a positive mindset, which positively affects his emotional health – something cancer patients facing a challenging diagnosis can lean into. “We know from good studies that emotional health is associated with survival, meaning better quality of life is associated with better outcomes,” gynecological oncologist Dr. Dana Chase says.
Alex Roca Campillo has defied the odds since he was a newborn, and at 33 years old, he continues to do what many thought a person diagnosed with cerebral palsy could never do.
Campillo has become the first man in the world with a 76-percent disability to complete a marathon.
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Campillo has inspired many people, and the obstacles he continues to overcome are essentially why he’s amassed an army of support.
“I’m in tears. What an inspiring human. Never let people tell you what you’re capable of,” Instagram user Emma wrote in a video showing Campillo crossing the finish line of his latest marathon.
Campillo suffered from herpetic viral encephalitis (cerebral herpes) at six months old, causing cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is “a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains.
Campillo has cerebral palsy with “76-percent physical disability” affecting the left side of his body.
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“I have reduced mobility, and I communicate through my tongue,” Campillo said on his biographical website.
“The doctors said I wouldn’t live, and they’re hallucinating because I’m alive,” the resilient marathon runner added.
According to the Cerebral Palsy Guide, Campillo competed in five triathlons and six half-marathons. After being told he would never “walk, talk or live a long and fulfilling life,” Campillo’s critics remain stunned at his physical accomplishments.
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“For me, sport is very important in my daily life because I see it as a lifestyle to improve myself. I believe that one can set limits for you, but you set the limits yourself. Each one being the owner of his destiny and his possibilities,” Campillo said.
Helping You with Positivity and Good Mental Health
A Positive Mindset
Campillo is living proof that you can accomplish whatever you set out to do with a resilient mind. A positive and resilient mindset is something many cancer patients SurvivorNet has spoken to over the years also adhere to.
Dr. Zuri Murrell of Cedars-Sinai says a sound, positive mind helps a patient’s prognosis.
“A positive attitude is “really important,” Dr. Murrell previously told SurvivorNet.
“My patients who thrive, even with stage 4 cancer, from the time that they, about a month after they’re diagnosed, I kind of am pretty good at seeing who is going to be OK. Now, doesn’t that mean I’m good at saying that the cancer won’t grow,” Dr. Murrell says.
Other experts at SurvivorNet have spoken to recommend that anyone facing cancer make sure they continue to prioritize their overall well-being and do the things that they love, just like Irwin is doing.
Dr. Dana Chase, a gynecological oncologist at Arizona Center for Cancer Care, says people with cancer should make time to do things that “make them happy.
“We know from good studies that emotional health is associated with survival, meaning better quality of life is associated with “better outcomes,” Chase said.
“So, working on your emotional health, your physical well-being, your social environment [and] your emotional well-being is important and can impact your survival. If that’s related to what activities you do that bring you joy, then you should try to do more of those activities,” Dr. Chase explained.
Alex’s Diagnosis, Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy (CP) is “caused by damage to or abnormalities inside the developing brain that disrupt the brain’s ability to control movement and maintain posture and balance,” the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says.
Some common symptoms of CP include:
- Stiff or tight muscles
- Weakness in one or more arms or legs
- Lack of muscle coordination
- Uncontrolled tremors or involuntary movements
Although cerebral palsy cannot be cured, several therapies exist to help manage symptoms and improve your quality of life. Physical and occupational therapy helps with muscle strength and improves posture and mobility. Recreation therapy helps with physical and cognitive skills, and speech therapy addresses language challenges.
Some CP patients use wheelchairs, braces, and computers to help with mobility and communication. Doctors may turn to some medications to help with muscle stiffness and occasional pain.
Questions to Asyou’re Doctor
If you’re battling cancer or are struggling with your outlook on life, here are some questions you may consider asking your doctor to get the conversation started:
- Can I do it if I’m struggling to be thankful for what I have in my life?
- Are there local resources for people wishing to improve their mental health?
- What else can I do to help reduce my stress level during myIt’scer journey?
- It’s difficult for me to find happiness and joy. How can I find help?