Every week we pick one inspiring dailymiler to be featured on the blog. This gives you a chance to learn the stories of members of the dailymile community. Check out past dailymiler’s of the week. Do you know someone that would be a great dailymiler? Nominate them!
“No one can hold you back from doing all the things you want to do. Just keep your goals in sight, listen to your body and take one day at a time. Some days will be better than others, but every day is a blessing – so make each day the best it can be.”
Those words of wisdom, put together on a run one day, have empowered Nancy E. Cook, our dailymiler of the week, through the tough times she has faced as she’s dealt with lymphoma these past two years. As she was beginning chemo therapy, she was planning to run the Chicago Marathon. The race was to be roughly two-thirds of the way through her treatments. A lot of people told her running through treatment was impossible. Nancy ignored the naysayers and continued training, listening to her body and pushing herself as much as she could. As the chemo treatments continued she got weaker and weaker, but she was determined to complete her goal.
“When I was in chemo,” she said, “I had bad days (usually three) and then slowly I’d regained my energy.”
Despite her difficult situation, Nancy made it to Chicago and ran a respectable 3:57 with her friend Cara. “I was in a Wonder Woman costume,” she reported. Cara was dressed as Batgirl.
Nancy was an accomplished athlete before cancer struck. She competed in her first triathlon in 1984. She went to the Olympic Distance Nationals twice and qualified for the World Championships for the 1/2 ironman once. She has competed in four Ironman triathlons. Her PR is 11 hours. “I kept trying to qualify for Hawaii,” she said, “but kept missing it by ‘one’ slot.”
She ran her first marathon in 1989. She finished 7th master in Boston in 2007 with a 3:05:5. Two years later, she was first master at the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon. She finished third in the New England Mountain running championships. She also ranked in the sport category in New England mountain bike racing and competed in cyclocross when in Colorado.
Just after Nancy finished her cancer treatments at the end of 2010, she had a bit of a setback. Her doctors thought they’d found more cancer in her spleen so they removed it. The biopsy taken after surgery came back negative. She was cancer-free. She has undergone blood tests every four months to check for more cancer, but so far has remained in remission. She will continue testing for two years. Her oncologists say the chances that the lymphoma won’t come back are good at that point.
Is she afraid of a relapse? “I worry when my stomach feels weird and my runs aren’t up to par,” she said. Even so, she continues to live life, to tell her story and to run. “I run because many cannot even get themselves out of bed in the morning. It is for all those that are suffering from this disease that I continue to fight as hard as I can.”
She’s had ample opportunity to share her story. She has spoken on stage many times, spreading hope, sharing her struggle, inspiring many to get up and do the things they love to do despite their cancer. In a little over three years, as a part of the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation fundraising team, she has raised more than $10,000 for cancer research.
Six weeks after her spleen was removed Cook competed in the 2011 Boston Marathon. She finished in 3:30. This past September she ran her first ultra, the Vermont 50. She was the fourth female to finish, covering the 50-mile course in 8:30. “The ultra was the ultimate in endurance for me and showed that I can be the Wonder Woman that my friends like to call me.”
How is Wonder Woman doing now? “I am doing great!” she reports. “Positive attitude will get you there!” She surrounds herself with her heroes – her husband, who has been there for her every step of the way, her son Schuyler, stepson & daughter Stephen & Samantha, and her DetermiNation and Relay For Life friends. “There is nothing better than celebrating life,” she says, “and I do it all the time.” On dailymile and as a San Francisco Marathon ambassador she has truly felt the support of her virtual teammates!
Nancy will be back in Boston next month, toeing the line for her eighth start in Hopkinton.