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Adam Green

‘My story has a happy ending’: Teenage cancer survivor grows up to run marathons

Adam Green is an avid marathon runner, a new homeowner, partner in a successful business, and loves to travel and cook. He is also a cancer survivor, having won his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after being diagnosed when he was just 15.  

It all began the summer of 1995, when Green noticed his legs were constantly itchy – something he attributed to poison ivy. Then came shortness of breath when playing baseball, which turned into a persistent cough that rapidly worsened.

His concerned parents took him to a doctor, and after several tests and a surgery to remove a lymph node in his neck it was determined the teen had a cancerous mass in his left lung.

“I remember being transported down the highway in an ambulance as a frail teenager, uncertain of what the coming weeks and months would bring,” recalls Green, who was transferred to Toronto’s SickKids Hospital.

“A flood of emotions overtook me ranging from anger and confusion to helplessness and frustration. The following weeks proved to be some of the hardest of my young life.”

Green immediately began chemotherapy, enduring needles, scans, IV fluids, pills, frantic trips to the washroom and a rapidly changing appearance.

“I went from being thin and frail with a full head of hair to being big and puffy with little wisps of hair which I often hid under a bandana and hat for warmth,” Green says, adding he quickly learned to ride the physical and emotional “rollercoaster ride” of living with cancer as a teenager.

Green’s story has a happy ending: he has been cancer-free for several decades and his health has been “fantastic” – something he credits in part to Terry Fox’s dream of finding cures for cancer through research.

“I was able to benefit from research breakthroughs that helped my medical team understand my cancer and how to treat it and defeat it,” said Green, who recently bought a home in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood.

Adam Green celebrates after completing the New York City Marathon. 

Looking forward, he hopes to have children, complete the World Marathon Majors series by racing in Boston, London, Tokyo and Berlin (he’s already ran marathons in New York City and Chicago), and continue to grow the marketing digital advertising agency he co-founded. Green is also passionate about the burgeoning field of cancer research, inspired by both his experiences as a teenager and Terry’s dream.

“There are some incredible cancer success stories out there, but we are still losing people – and that’s a constant reminder that we’re not done and we need to keep going,” says Green. “We have such great tools and research at our disposal, and it’s so encouraging!”