I train 6-7 days a week; sometimes twice a day. I do cardio. I lift weights. I count macros. I pour my heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into all that I do. But, I’m not your typical athlete. I’m a 27 year cancer survivor. I’ll spend my life on crutches. I’m missing a hip joint. My femur was replaced by a cadaver bone. My pelvis is fused. My right leg is 6” shorter than my left. But, I’m a marathoner. Not only am I a marathoner, I’m a winner.
In the summer of 1990, I broke my hip while attempting to catch a pop-fly in a little league softball game. It went undiagnosed for three months. Once diagnosed, the injury refused to heal. In January of 1991, I underwent exploratory surgery to determine the cause. Just hours later, my life was forever changed.
Twenty-seven years ago, on January 20, 1991, I was told I had six weeks to live. I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the right femur and hip. My parents were told to bring me home, make me comfortable, and plan my funeral. We refused to listen and sought a second opinion, then a third. After almost 18 months of intense chemotherapy, a 12 hour operation in which my right femur was removed and replaced with a cadaver bone and steel plates and my right hip was removed and pelvis fused, an additional 14 surgical procedures, including one in which my right fibula was removed and grafted over the femur fracture site, and months of physical therapy, I’m here to tell my story. I’m here to make a difference. I’m here to live.
There have been many obstacles along the way. I’ve spent 21 of the last 27 years using crutches full-time. This will continue for the rest of my life. I sat on the sidelines for 24 years, becoming unhealthy, gaining weight, and growing weaker. I was desperate to change my life. I was desperate to know what it was like to be an athlete again.
That desperation led me to handcycling. In April of 2015, I received a handcycle and began training. Just one month later, I competed in the Vermont City Marathon, placing 4th in the Women’s Handcycle Division. I was hooked. I went on to do the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall. I amped up my training, found a coach who helped me get leaner, lighter, and stronger. I returned to the Vermont City Marathon in May 2016, and placed 1st in the Women’s Handcycle Division. I went on to place 1st in the Women’s Handcycle Division of the 2016 Hartford Marathon and 4th in the 2016 TCS NYC Marathon.
I again returned to the Vermont City Marathon in May 2017, where I placed 2nd, coming in behind Paralympic Medalist Alicia Dana. Not only did I take a whopping 56 minutes off my 2015 finish time, I qualified for the Boston Marathon. I then competed in the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon – the largest marathon in the world – and I placed 2nd in the Women’s Handcycling Division.
In 2018 I’ll be competing in the Boston Marathon, Vermont City Marathon, TCS NYC Marathon and the Spartan Race. MY goal is to handcycle a marathon in under two hours.
2017 TCS NYC Marathon – 2nd Place, Women’s Handcycle
2017 Vermont City Marathon – 2nd Place, Women’s Handcycle (qualified for Boston Marathon)
2016 TCS NYC Marathon – 4th Place, Women’s Handcycle
2016 Hartford Marathon –1st Place, Women’s Handcycle
2016 Vermont City Marathon – 1st Place, Women’s Handcycle
2015 Marine Corps Marathon
2015 Vermont City Marathon – 4th Place, Women’s Handcycle
Peanut Butter Protein Balls
1 cup natural peanut butter
⅛ cup NOW Real Food® Organic Light Agave Nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups NOW Real Food® Organic Rolled Oats
½ cups NOW Real Food® Unsweetened, Shredded Coconut
⅓ cup mini chocolate chips
Pinch of salt
2-4 teaspoons water
- In a medium bowl, mix together the peanut butter, agave nectar, and vanilla extract.
- Stir in the oats, coconut, and salt until well combined; add chocolate chips. If the mixture appears loose, add additional water, a teaspoon at a time, until it holds together in a ball shape.
- Form 1” balls by rolling a tablespoon of the mixture together.
- Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to 1 week.