Running for life | One woman’s breast cancer journey
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Stephanie Clock started running six years ago to cope with her asthma.
“I started with just going a few mailboxes running without stopping and then adding a few mailboxes after that,” she said. Until she worked herself up to five miles and was encouraged by her running partner to run a marathon, “the word race was really intimidating.”
But not intimidating enough to stop Stephanie — in fact, it only encouraged her to run more. “I meet friends along the way. Maybe they could help me, maybe I could help them,” she said. “By 2016, Stephanie had run 10 marathons and nearly 50 combined 10k’s and 5k’s — and qualified for the Boston Marathon.
She was at the top of her running game when she learned she would be learning to run a different kind of race.
On March 21, 2016, Stephanie was diagnosed with an aggressive and invasive form of breast cancer.
But even her cancer diagnosis wasn’t going to stop her. She was determined to convince her oncologists she could run the Boston Marathon, “I showed up in all my Boston gear.”
After careful consideration, Stephanie’s doctors gave her the OK on one condition — that she start chemo two days after running the race. “So it was a very emotional run,” she admitted.
She finished in 3 hours and 36 minutes and that would be the last time Stephanie would run for nearly two years.
“I can’t tell you how life changing that was to get diagnosed,” she said.
For this single mom, her worries were not about herself, but her children who were by her side every step of the way giving her the strength to beat cancer. “I didn’t want to feel it. I just wanted it gone, I wanted the cancer out of my body,” she said.
A double mastectomy, five months of chemo and six weeks of radiation, Stephanie describes her journey as hell. “At our low points we think, why try. It’s so hard,” she said. But as you’ve probably learned by now, Stephanie doesn’t know how to give up.
“I have a lot to live for. I have a lot to be thankful for. My journey is not over. I’m still in it. I’m not sure when or if it will ever be over,” she said. And neither is her running.
Stephanie is getting ready to run the Fifth Third River Bank Run as part of the Road Warrior Team. It’s a group of 12 men and women chosen out of a hundred applicants who use running to overcome life’s obstacles.
Stephanie discovered her cancer through a breast self-exam at 39 years old. She is still waiting for her doctors to tell her she is cancer free.