|Angi Hunter with her boys at the Heels and|
Hills 10k during treatment.
Angi Hunter did not let a cancer diagnosis, or the fact she was in the middle of treatment, stop her from signing up for a Team In Training event. In the middle of her chemotherapy treatment, she fundraised for and completed the Hills and Hills 10k in Irving, TX. Read below as she describes her cancer battle, decision to run, and why she is returning to TNT again.
"'Why I am participating in and fundraising for LLS'
The creative answer...because we just have to keep moving forward...in all things and all situations.
The general public answer...because blood (and other) cancers have touched too many people too close to me for too long.
The personal answer...because I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2010 and have watched families and friends battles in the years since then
The long (and short of it)...smelly bathrooms and powerful reminders. What do smelly bathrooms and powerful reminders have in common? Anything can be motivation if you choose to view it that way. Five years ago, I was in so much pain I no longer knew who I was. My chest radiated pain down my left arm that would often linger up to 5 hours. I couldn't laugh, cry, inhale, cough or sneeze without grabbing my chest and folding over from the stabbing pain. I could no longer sleep a full night because taking too deep an inhale while asleep would shoot me out of bed in tears. Because of constant pain and lack of sleep, I became ugly and angry and unfit to be a good mother to my boys and wife to my husband. After more than 3 months of pain and sickness, it wasn't easy to receive a cancer diagnosis. Yet, in all the suffering, the diagnosis did offer some light and relief to what felt like a very long, dark struggle.
After my diagnosis, I was so relived to move forward and feel better...anything had to be better than the pain I was in. I had ups and downs but I knew I could handle whatever came next. I didn't necessarily want to go through the poisonous treatments that were involved...but I knew that it was the right decision for myself and my family. The process of getting an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan was time consuming and draining. Many visits to hospitals, doctors and surgeons. Hours in waiting spaces and sterile rooms away from my sweet boys, family and friends. And the worst part of it all...smelly bathrooms. Not smelly in the way you might imagine. Smelly from the air disinfectant that hospitals use. During chemotherapy some senses dull and other heighten. My sense of smell was off the charts and the most common things could make my stomach roll. Oftentimes it was harder to use the restroom than it was to sit for 8 hours a day in a chemo chair.
Determined to stay upbeat and positive, I decided to do something that supported all those fighting a cancer experience. I had heard of Team in Training before so it seemed like the perfect time to get active. I signed up for a local 10k. I could go through chemo and still complete the Heels and Hills 10k in Irving, TX to raise money for LLS. I raised well over the fundraising goal and walked and finished the event. Heels and Hills was a memorable event shared with two friends and my immediate family. A few months after the event, I completed 6 months of chemotherapy and in the recovery years that followed, found a new normal.
This year marks my 5 year anniversary and "cured" status. I couldn't think of a better way to honor those who continue to fight, those who survived a fight(s) and those who we lovingly remember in our hearts than to do another TNT event. This time I was determined to run! Through a neighborhood friend who battled breast cancer and who's daughter battled leukemia (Kelly and Lainey Thomas), I found a TNT coach close to home (Will and Dianna Bacon). I recruited a friend (Susan Sexton) and signed up for the Cowtown Half Marathon. Just like owning the challenge of a cancer experience, I am confident with the support of TNT, their amazing Coaches and team members, I can complete the challenge of running 13.1 miles. As anyone who has kicked cancer knows, accomplishing your goals can be done when your heart is in it! I may run slow, funny and with some aches and pains but at least I'm out of that chemo chair!
To this day, a smelly (hospital) bathroom can take hold of me if I let it. When the nauseousness sets in, I take a moment to be thankful for my health and show gratitude for the past experience. I use the same approach when my body wants to quit during the longer miles of my Half Marathon training. I remind myself how far I've come. I thank my body for what it has done, thank the chemo chair and call to mind those who still fight! As I look to today's daily inspiration by Alan Weiss, it couldn't be more fitting: 'It's not what happens to you, it's what you do before it, during it and after it.'"