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Eight months later, couple is still running despite cancer

Published: Thursday, Aug. 22 2013 8:45 p.m. MDT

Amanda Catano and her husband, Jason Dorais, walk near their home in Salt Lake City Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. The couple were married in December despite her stage 4 cancer diagnosis.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — On an evening in late May, Amanda Catano and Jason Dorais made their way to the track at East High School and ran a couple of laps.

“It wasn’t anything,” she said Thursday. “But it was pretty momentous because it was the first time I’d run in a really long time and it felt great in a really horrible way.

“It just felt good to not only feel well enough to do that, but to still have the ability to do that.”

When Dorais and Catano married in December, Catano was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. It was the best day she had had in weeks and she didn’t have to use a walker or wheelchair to support her then-85-pound frame.

Before the wedding, she was on a feeding tube. Soon after, she had a round of chemotherapy that sent her to the hospital for a week and took her down to 75 pounds. She won her race to the altar. Perhaps surprisingly, it came without a finish line.

Run for your life

Earlier this month, the couple completed a 5K — together.

“I shuffled along,” Catano said.

"You finished though," her husband said.

Not stopping has defined this couple, who were engaged and wed last year in spite of Catano’s diagnosis. They have only good things to say about their eight months of marriage, each other and those who have helped and supported them along the way.

“We can’t say enough about how people have been so kind and generous and this is a good opportunity to express gratitude for even the smallest things that people have done that have meant so much to us,” she said.

Catano, 33, was training for the Ogden Marathon when she first experienced the symptoms that would eventually lead her to a gastroenterologist and the diagnosis of colon cancer. She and Dorais had been dating for over a year when she was diagnosed and he said it made everything more clear, proposing within a couple of months.

As a medical resident at University Hospital, Dorais was especially qualified and willing to help Catano in her fight against cancer and their closeness is evident. Marriage has only further deepened that relationship.

“We’re even closer now than we were before,” she said. “We talk about how we like marriage so much more than we thought we would. ... I feel like marriage has been pretty easy aside from the fact that my health problems have been pretty crazy at times. But we’re definitely committed ... and enjoy each other’s company.”

He said they “enjoy it more every day” and that they keep each other motivated as Amanda continues to battle cancer.

“We’ve just been doing this together and staying as happy as we can,” he said. “We’re in a committed relationship and we just do what we need to do. We have no other options. It’s not like being sad or pouty makes any difference at all, so it’s just stay happy and kind of deal with it.”

Choosing happiness

Catano said Dorais is always happy and even-keeled and that has made a world of difference.

“He’s so good about that,” she explained. “So good about being strong and supportive and positive and happy all the time and that honestly helps out a ton, because it would be hard to see other people breaking down and having a hard time with this.”

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