The Run That Saved His Life: St. John’s Professor Finishes Marathon After Heart Surgery

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

By Katie Vasquez

One of Brian Browne’s favorite pastimes is going for a jog.

He does it casually, getting in his steps whenever he can.

However, one day almost two years ago, Browne noticed something strange about a mile into his normal jog.

“I get chest pains like I never felt before, like literally someone reaching in and squeezing my chest,” Browne said. “I tried walking it off, I tried shaking it off.”

It wasn’t until he developed shingles that Brian went to the doctor.  He mentioned the chest pain, and what happened next saved his life.

“I got the angiogram the very next day,” Browne said. “It demonstrated that there was major blockage in at least 3 of my arteries, and the day after I had quintuple bypass heart surgery.”

Doctor Robert Tiballi of the St. Roch Center in Chicago said Browne was lucky that the doctors caught the blockage in time. 

“It’s a silent killer, and the first heart attack is the worst,” Dr. Tiballi said. “There’s like 40% of people [who] don’t survive their first heart attack.”

After that scare, the St. John’s University professor decided to make a change — to eat better and exercise more. 

Running a full marathon was always on Browne’s bucket list, and after months of training, he made his dream come true on Oct 22, completing the Catholic Health Suffolk County Marathon in more than four hours.

“There’s nothing like it, crossing the finish line and the support from the crowd but also that inner personal satisfaction is something that long after the crowd goes away, that hey I ran a marathon, that’s pretty cool,” Browne said.

It is an achievement Brian doesn’t take for granted. 

“I consider myself blessed that I had this event but you know it could have had a much different ending than it did,” Browne said.