AACR Runners for Research Spotlight: Cancer Survivor Rabbi Benjamin David Runs to Help Others

Benjamin David
Rabbi Benjamin David

To put it simply, Benjamin David is a busy man. He is a rabbi, husband, father, avid runner, and cancer survivor. David, who lives with his wife, Lisa, and three children, Noa, Elijah, and Samuel, is the senior rabbi at Adath Emanu-El in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

Rabbi David has run 18 marathons, including the Boston Marathon twice and the New York City Marathon four times. He is also a co-founder of the Running Rabbis, which brings clergy together to run and walk in the name of shared causes.

In January 2016, at the age of 39, Rabbi David received life-changing news from his doctor. He was diagnosed with a fast-growing cancer called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and would need to start treatment immediately. During that time, he was unable run at the level he had run previously.

“Being unable to run for so long was really painful to me at a time when I arguably needed to run the most. It would’ve been great to have that outlet,” he said.

Rabbi David finished four cycles of chemotherapy by the end of April 2016 and had 17 sessions of radiation therapy between April and June of that year. A PET scan later in the summer confirmed that his cancer was gone, and with that news, he was eager to run again.

Restarting his training proved challenging. He constantly asked himself if he could get back to a semblance of the runner he was before. With a long and arduous road ahead of him, he ultimately started to rebound.

“Slowly, I started to build up again,” he says. “That fall, I shuffled my way through a half marathon. I have been building from there ever since.”

Rabbi David set his sights on running in the AACR Philadelphia Marathon and ran the race on November 21, 2021, as a member of the AACR Runners for Research team.

“I’m honored to be a part of the AACR Runners for Research team and honored to devote myself to others who are experiencing cancer,” he said. “I was fortunate. I received very good treatment and my prognosis was relatively good, but I’m well-aware of the fact that not everyone is going to be as fortunate.

“I felt so grateful that I survived and was able to return to my life. I wanted to be of help to people now experiencing what I did,” he added.

Learn More about AACR Runners for Research Return to Philanthropy Brief, Winter 2021 Issue