December 12 2017
Meet Rhonda-Marie and Steven Parke, two ultrarunners who discovered their love for each other through running.
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.
I’ve been a runner almost all my life. I started in my 20s and never stopped. A good long run always makes me feel free, energized and happy.
In 2008, the year I turned 50, a blood test revealed a disorder. I felt okay enough to run, however, and didn’t want to give it up. I went out for my daily workouts for the first few weeks while the doctors were diagnosing the source of the problem. But my family noticed I was struggling and persuaded me to hold off until the tests commenced. When they did, I found out that I had a cancerous tumor on my lung as well as kidney failure.
I viewed this year of my life in the same way that I viewed training for races. I stayed hopeful, searching for small increments of change. If I had a bad day, then I would count on tomorrow. Even though I couldn’t run during that time, I’m convinced that my level of fitness going into the battle helped me win my fight with cancer.
Today, I’m proud to say I’m cancer free. I still have to deal with my other health issues, but having a hemodialysis machine in my house lets me feel like my life is mine again. I’m back running, and even racing. I may not be fast anymore, but I don’t care. Every time I can get outdoors, I feel thankful and blessed.