At the 2022 New York Marathon, Running To “Prove We’re Alive”

The crowd that carries you along the avenues of the Big Apple, the roar of supporters that rises from the depth of concrete and glass canyons… All this, Malika Kacel can already imagine. “I’m going to take the emotion in the head, that’s for sure; I wouldn’t be surprised if I cried, ” she confides from her city of Bordeaux, a few hours from taking the plane to fly to New York and her marathon. The 39-year-old nurse will have more than one reason to be moved. 

In 2016, she was 35 when she discovered a lump in her right breast. A few days later, blood tests confirm cancer … at the same time as she learns of her third pregnancy. She decides to wait for delivery before starting treatment. She will undergo a double mastectomy. But will also discover a cause, and friends forever. Because with her surgeon, AmélieGesson-Paute, she embarked on a raid in Lapland in 2018 organized by the association Défid’Elles, for the benefit of Keep a Breast, a foundation that works for the prevention of breast cancer.

It is with the same group that she arrives this year in New York. They are 19 women – and one man – who will run under the colors of Défid’Elles. Malika Kacel is the only cancer survivor of the lot, but the others are all concerned and activists for the cause, such as former swimming champion Laure Manaudou. Or the journalist Valérie Trierweiler. She swears that long-distance running isn’t her thing. “ They more or less forced me… I had to be a companion, there was one bib left, I ended up saying yes,” she says.

The former First Lady has been with the group since 2018. She had covered the Lapland raid, then, already the New York marathon for Paris Match. At the time, 5 Défid’Elles runners had done the race in a very special way: they had taken with them 42 photos of breast cancer patients. At each kilometer, they brandished and presented to the public one of the photos. “ I found myself trained then, to do the women’s raids of Defid’Elles first, then this marathon now. I didn’t really train for a marathon; I’ve never run a semi, but all together we experience such strong emotions, it makes you surpass yourself (…). And then the objective is only to go to the end, I believe in it! “.

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