Running gives NYPD officer battling intestinal cancer new purpose

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- An NYPD officer is getting ready for a huge race, but it's why he's running that has changed his life.

Johnny Lawrence was at the height of his NYPD career.

The officer had been the force about 18 and a half years.

He's an avid gym buff and weight lifter, but in April, 2019, Lawrence experienced a huge blow.

RELATED | Top athletes teaming up to participate in virtual TCS New York City Marathon

The 43-year-old was diagnosed with intestinal cancer.

"I would be walking out of the stairs and I was out of breath," Lawrence said.

Then fast forward one year to 2020.

In the middle of cancer treatments and the global coronavirus pandemic, Lawrence had two emergency surgeries.

"Nobody can come visit you, you're at the hospital by yourself, you are recovering by yourself," Lawrence said.

Sick, tired, lonely and a 100 pounds lighter, the father of three boys turned to 'Charge Running,' an app focused on a running community.

"I don't like running too much, but it made running fun," Lawrence said.

In the first month of joining, he clocked more than 70 miles alone.

But even more, it gave him a purpose at a time when life could feel hopeless.

"Keep moving, keep busy, don't get down on yourself," Lawrence said. "Get out of bed. Move around. Everything little thing counts."

Lawrence, who is now in remission, is planning to run the "Boston for all" virtual marathon in 10 days, to keep his body and mind both healthy.

* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* More New York City news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.