Last June, 13-year-old Joey Belles of Aledo, Texas, was diagnosed with pineoblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer. He received surgery to remove the tumour in July and underwent radiation therapy followed by chemotherapy, which he started in November. Belles was treated at the Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, which has a program called Miles in Motion that gets patients up and active while in the hospital. Belles originally aimed to hit 10 miles, but he ultimately walked 26 miles throughout his stays at Cook Children’s Medical Centre, completing a full marathon.
Most people will go their entire lives without completing a #marathon. Despite his diagnosis of a rare form of #cancer, 13-year-old Joey Belles crossed the finish line last week, becoming the first Cook Children’s patient to walk 26 miles during treatment. https://t.co/whrNulYk6J
— Cook Children's (@CookChildrens) February 27, 2020
Belles set a personal challenge to walk every day, a goal which started with his physical therapist, who told him about the Miles in Motion program. As added incentive to take part, patients win a gift card if they make it a total of 10 miles. One mile is 24 laps of the nurse’s station.
“When I first got here, I was sick and I was moving pretty slow,” Belles told the Cook Children’s Checkup Newsroom. “We started walking the first day, but I could only do two laps.” Belles and his parents walked every day during each of his four hospital stays, which each lasted between two and four weeks.
“For about a week, I did two to four laps a day and then I started getting to 10,” Belles told the Checkup Newsroom.”Then I started doing 20.” Soon enough, Belles had reached 30 laps a day.
We are so proud of former BCCCS student Joey Belles. Joey's out of hospital and done with chemo! A great moment in his journey. Such a strong young man. We continue to keep him in our thoughts and prayers. Once a Bruin, always a Bruin! We love you Joey! pic.twitter.com/neJpd5qoTw
— Bear Creek Community Charter School (@bear_charter) February 28, 2020
Although a marathon wasn’t on his radar when he started Miles in Motion, when Belles saw he was getting close to the 26-mile mark, he decided to make a push for it. Belles completed his marathon with his parents by his side and hospital staff chanting his name as he made his way down the the final stretch. Fittingly, he crossed the finish on February 20—his final day of chemotherapy.