March 11, 2017

Becoming Fearless

Family, education, and running are three words that most define me and what I’m passionate about.

First, my family, consisting of Tony, (my husband of 41 years), two grown sons, one daughter-in-law and three of the most adorable grandsons. They are my greatest passion and my biggest support in whatever adventure I do.

Second, teaching first grade for thirty years gave me my love for education. My students became my extended family; watching children discover new things and be so excited to learn, always with a smile on their face, gave me my passion for education. When I retired, I missed those smiling faces and I wanted to continue giving to the education community. My friends talked me into running for a position on the school board. I served on on the Washington County School Board for four very rewarding years.

Third, running and staying healthy have been a big part of my life for over forty years. I have been fortunate and “lucky” enough to have completed 259 marathons and several triathlons (including the Ironman) all over the U.S. as well as in Japan and London. Many people ask, “What is your favorite marathon?” I like so many of the marathons I’ve run that picking one is hard, but the race I’m most passionate about is St. George.

The St. George marathon began forty years ago, in 1977. I feel so lucky to have completed all forty St. George marathons. However, my participation has been questionable some years because of illness, pregnancy or injury. Somehow, I’ve managed to stay healthy enough to compete every October. In 1985, I delivered a healthy baby boy eight weeks after crossing the finish line. I thought that might be one of my hardest, but again in 2005 my participation was in question. In May, of that year I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone several surgeries and treatment. When October rolled around I was healthy enough to compete; my St. George running streak would continue.

I was so happy to finish that year and as I crossed the finish line, with a smile on my face, I thought cancer was behind me. I would go on with my life and continue doing what I loved. Little did I know that in 2016 I would be running the St. George marathon with another cancer diagnosis, this time in my appendix of all places! April is my birthday month, and I had made plans with my sister and friends to run the Boston marathon to celebrate my 60th birthday. A few days before the race I had a stomach ache. The pain was something I’d never experienced before. I ran the race, but at the finish line my sister wanted me to go to a hospital and get checked, I assured her I would get checked as soon as I was back in St. George.

Five days after the Boston marathon I was in surgery with a ruptured appendix, a week after that my surgeon delivered the scary news that I had a tumor in my appendix. I would require more surgery and then I’d be on my way to oncology. I was shocked and scared to death, how could this be true? I eat healthy and I exercise daily, I kept thinking there was a mistake. Well… I started chemotherapy in June 2016 and before I could ask my doctor what my chances were for running the marathon in October he said, “We will do everything we can to keep you healthy enough to run in October.” That was what I needed to hear to give me hope and have something to look forward to. I was able to compete in the 40th St. George marathon, with a lot of support from my sister and friends, who stayed by my side every step of the way for 26.2 miles. My time was slow, but my soul was happy, and I couldn’t quit smiling for days.

I completed chemotherapy in December and it was my family, my friends and running that helped me stay positive and healthy through all the treatments. Running has taught me that there is a finish line. Some days a race can seem long and hard (like life), but there is a finish to hard things. I have been scared many times in my life but I always think, “Life is the story you tell yourself, and I am healthy and fearless!”

I have so much to be thankful for, a family that is always ready and willing to support me through all my adventures, good and bad. I will be forever grateful for friends who have been with me through all my doctor appointments and surgeries and who have slowed down to keep me company on runs. I’m also very happy to live in a community where we have top-rated medical care and the best doctors and nurses.

Sometimes we have to be scared to become fearless. I’ve been scared many times this year, but I always knew through any adversity there is a finish line!

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