February 13 2018
Colleen Kelly Alexander discusses the accident that changed her life and how she has rebounded in spite of the trauma to her mind and body.
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.