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A Survivor Story

My father, who ran the Comrades Marathon in 1979 and 1980, passed away on the 7th of June 2010. I was a young girl when he completed his ‘up and down’ run and was always planning that ‘one day – some day’ I would like to run the ‘Ultimate Human Race’. On the day my Dad passed away, I undertook to run the Comrades Marathon in 2011 and raise funds for CANSA.

I completed the Comrades Marathon (Up run) on the 29th of May 2011. I was adamant that I would one do ONE, but by the end of that gruelling day I know this race (journey) was in my blood. My running buddy (Chellaine) and I managed to raise R125,000 from friends and colleagues.

I was training for my second Comrades (the down run) in 2012 and had just completed the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon on the 7th of April 2012 when I had my annual mammogram on the 13th of April (Friday). This was the day that would change my life forever. Instead of leaving the Bone and Breast Care Centre happy with another routine annual mammogram, I was having biopsies and being told that I would have to take a year out of my life to fight this awful disease with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

I was dedicated to my annual mammograms due to my mom being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 (she is a survivor) and knowing that early detection saved her life. So, I had to take the rest of 2012 off from running and most of it off from work to run a race of a very different kind. By the end of December 2012 I was said to be in remission and I was determined to run the Comrades Marathon again.

I did my first 21kms after my illness in January 2013 (Dischem) and an ultra-marathon in March 2013. By early April, I was ready to take on the Two Oceans Ultra and successfully completed the race. My determination came from, not only being a survivor, but also being a Comrades runner (man, that journey changes your life forever!).

I also decided that I wanted to use my illness and recovery as hope for other woman who were being diagnosed and going through treatment. This is where ,my journey with Pink Drive started. I contacted the CEO, Noelene Kotschan and asked to become a spokesperson and to be invited to do talks and high teas.

I have also, since 2013, completed the Comrades Marathon in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 (my sixth medal).

In an effort to become stronger, I found ‘Way to Wellness (now powered by Cell C)’ as a wonderful opportunity to cross train and improve my running strength. This is where I met Gill. I was asked by Pink Drive to do a talk on the 9th of August 2015 after the Totalsport Ladies 10km race in Johannesburg. Gill and I went together and, not only did I run my best time on a 10kms run, but I also addressed almost 5,000 ladies.

I told my story and emphasized how important early detection was, and the incredible work that Pink Drive does in this regard, but I also aimed at motivating and inspiring the woman to keep on running, staying fit and remembering to do their breast examinations on a monthly basis. I concluded my speech and got the loudest cheer I have ever heard. My job was done.

By: Mrs Teresa Wilson