August 6 2018
Running helped this woman quit smoking 25 years ago—and she’s still running strong at age 66.
Let me start by saying: I love running. I love waking up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, getting to a race, waiting with all the others and feeling that excitement of the start line–and I am not a morning person. Big races or small, it’s this wonderful community that I feel part of. I’m not a fast runner; never have been. I’m middle-aged (50ish) and considered overweight, but I love to run.
I started seriously running in 2013, just after I was cleared from my bout with thyroid cancer. This is a cancer that plays tricks on your body. No matter how much you exercise, you continue gaining weight. After the surgery and radiation, what follows is a process of regulating your body–just so you can function. Each day can bring a new high or low, depending on the medication levels. But I learned to manage it. I started running every weekend in organized races and completed short runs during the week. My weight was under control, and I felt really good.
I went to Sweden to run my eighth half marathon. It was the largest half marathon in the world with 64,000 people–an amazing experience, to say the least. But on the day before I was to return home, I was playing in a playground and broke my leg. I was devastated! How would I ever run again? After spending two days in a Swedish hospital, coming home with my friend on a very long trip with a broken leg was the hardest thing I had ever done–and I survived cancer. What was going to happen to me? Two major surgeries later, doctors put 15 screws and two plates in my leg, and later removed half of them. I now have five screws and one plate left.
I wanted to be able to say I could run again so badly. I pushed and pushed at physical therapy. I had an incredible group of medical personnel and therapists that helped me. As I laid in bed, I continued to gain weight, as I wasn’t able to run every week like I had before. Things just seemed to get darker and darker: first thyroid cancer, then a bum leg.
My goal was to run a half marathon one year after my accident. So, in May of 2017, I ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland. In November, I ran the runDisney Wine and Dine 5K, 10K and Half Marathon at Disney World. My pace has slowed considerably since my accident: I now do run/walk intervals, but I know that’s not going to be the case forever. All I can say is: I am a runner and will always be one! This is not going to stop me. I can overcome!