Leukaemia survivor runs Two Oceans

Business owner and leukaemia survivor Massimo Orione uses running for charity as a way to urge the public to donate stem cells. He raised R2 427 last Saturday at the Two Oceans Half Marathon.

Life does not stop at 50. So said business owner and leukaemia survivor Massimo Orione, after completing the Two Oceans Half Marathon on Saturday April 20.

For many, marathons are a challenging venture, but for Mr Orione, it’s merely an opportunity to raise money for important causes.

Mr Orione is the owner of the popular pizza eatery Massimos, on Oakhurst Farm in Hout Bay. Originally from Piemonte, Italy, he opened the restaurant in 2009, with his wife Tracy.

At the age of 42, Mr Orione was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called polycythaemia vera. This means the bone marrow makes too many red blood cells, which ends up thickening the blood and slowing its flow.

“I’d have a half litre of blood taken from my veins due to the bone marrow overproducing blood; causing it to become very thick. Along with this treatment, I required daily injections of Interferon, as well as a light dose of chemotherapy,” explained Mr Orione, who was later told by doctors that there was a chance of the treatment developing into leukaemia.

For the fifth anniversary of his bone marrow transplant on September 3, last year, Mr Orione ran for as long as he could. He did this on his treadmill at the restaurant and clients paid to guess how long he would resist. He managed to run for two hours and 26 minutes (24.1km) and raised R35 695, which he donated to The Sunflower Fund.

“The Two Oceans was fantastic, I will certainly do it again! I’ve never seen so many people running together, you never feel alone,” he said after raising R2 427 for the Cape Kidney Association.

Another one of his accomplishments was running the Landmarks Half Marathon on November 4 last year, for which he raised
R4 020 going to DARG, a dog-rescue organisation based in Hout Bay.

Asked what advice he would give to other cancer survivors who are thinking of running for a cause, he said: “Do it if you can, it shows there is hope after the illness.”

In Mr Orione’s case, he was trying to inspire more people to register as stem cell donors.

“This is my second chance in life and I can finally do what I was never able to do while I was sick!”

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