LARRY COMROE, 43, a real-estate agent, had just closed the sale of Andy Warhol’s former townhouse on Lexington Avenue when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2002. Last July, he finished the Ironman Triathlon.
After I was diagnosed, I went out and bought new clothes: I got dressed for every chemo session like I was going to work. I wore a button-down shirt and dress pants and hard shoes. You could see women doing the same thing—they had their wigs on, they had their makeup, they looked fierce. It set the mental tone. My chemo regimen was such that as much as my body could take, they were going to give me. On Thanksgiving morning 2002, I woke up and fell over. I couldn’t feel the back of my legs. My doctor was blunt: He said, “Larry, if we can’t stop the paralysis before it gets to your heart and lungs, you will die.” It took a month in the hospital for me to regain the use of my hands and walk again. Six months after my treatment ended, I decided to do a triathlon in 2004 with Team in Training, the fund-raising arm of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I was 40 pounds overweight; I looked like a mess. I’d learned to walk again, but I didn’t know how to run. I’d lost my natural gait. You know when a fawn first gets up and flops over? It wasn’t pretty. I’d bike in the morning, and swim and run after work. At my first triathlon, in Westchester, I finished toward the back but respectably. Two years later, I finished the Lake Placid Ironman in 14 hours, 54 minutes, and 10 seconds; I’ve done fifteen events in three years and raised more than $2.8 million. A lot of miles and a lot of sweat.