My journey - battling lymphoma

Recently I celebrated my 46th birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! Then I participated as a co-captain for our local "Quabog" Relay For Life and the Pack 57 Rocks! Cub Scout Team. This was the time frame that I had discovered an uneasiness in my stomach and growth in my spleen and stomach. After weeks of monitoring, my husband Steve took me to the doctor who felt the lumps and ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed a massive area, my spleen enlarged to twice its size and an additional growth lower in my stomach. Next was the localized CT guided biopsy and subsequent PET scan. The biopsy showed positive for lymphoma and most likely Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma.

This is my online journal sharing my experience through battling this cancer that has abruptly entered my life for no apparent reason. The story is documented here if you want to start from the beginning, you can check the archives on the side bar.

As a top competitive master athlete this year winning my age group at the Marine Corps Marathon and placing 3rd in the New England Trail Running Championship I have been truly excited with my results of late and am a truly driven athlete. Driven by goals.... my goal right now.... to beat this "thing"!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chicago Marathon Countdown: 61 days! Runner Profile

Every runner has a story. Please tell us yours!
We know you’ve heard stories that have inspired you to run 26.2 miles. Now it is your turn to motivate others. Share your story by completing this profile and it could be featured on our Web site, in our print publications or used in our communications to the media. Please fill out the personal contact information section below and answer the applicable questions or submit a brief essay on the reasons why you have decided to participate in this year’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon. When completed, please forward the document to: We will contact you directly if we are able to use your story.

FullName: Nancy E. Cook

 Age (on race day): 46    Birthdate: June 22, 1964

Current City of Residence:     Belchertown, MA

Occupation:  National Director, American Cancer Society Relay For Life National Corporate Team Program

Employer/School: American Cancer Society

 Number of Previous Marathons Completed: 24 

Charity Affiliation (if applicable): American Cancer Society DetermiNation

What specifically was the determining factor in your decision to run a marathon in 2010? 
As a competitive runner I train and race 2-3 marathons a year.  I love running fall marathons because of all the summer training --- much tougher to run and in the spring living in New England.

Why did you select the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in particular?
I have run Chicago 2 times (2006 and 2007) and my friend Judy was excited to get together again and run Chicago.  It is such a fun place to visit and the marathon is so flat and fast.  A great goal to run this marathon again and hoped to PR my marathon time.  

What is your ultimate goal for this race (e.g. PR or specific finish time, fundraising dollars, weight loss, etc.)?
At first it is always about the time.  My PR is a 3:05 at Boston in 2007 -- which has been very difficult to beat, but I have been truly at the top of my game.  Then in early July I was diagnosed with Lymphoma.  It has been a crazy journey of doctors, treatment and more symptoms, aches and pains than I could imagine.  Being in the top shape in my life has really helped me with this battle, but it still is so incredibly draining for me.  But I continue to keep my eye on the goal.  What goal?  To finish.  I haven't had that goal in a long time, and maybe that finish will be fast, but it may be tough --- I need to listen to my body --- and if it wants to perform, it will.  But I will run or walk across that line victorious finishing 26.2 miles --- I know it in my gut.  I have not stopped since feeling that lump, getting that CT scan and hearing those words...  "you have cancer".  I will not stop.  I run for hope.  I run for life.  

If you are running for a cause or in honor of someone please explain the association and why doing so has special meaning to you.
I am running for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation program and run in memory and honor of a LOT of people.  I like to dedicate a mile to each person that makes a generous donation to my efforts and carry those names with me.  But this year --- on the line, mile one and mile 26 are for me - in honor of me -- victorious!

Have you had to overcome any personal challenges in your training (e.g. injury, illness, loss of job, loss of loved one, etc.) that will make finishing an even more significant success?
This lymphoma has truly been the biggest challenge that I have had in my life.  Training through treatment has been a challenge.  I will still be in treatment while running the marathon on 10/10/10 -- as it will complete in November.  It has been a drain on my body, but every ounce of effort I have in the morning I put into that run.  The long runs have been really tough, but I am getting them in despite the recovery time being much more than I could have imagined.  But I am doing it.  I have some amazing incredible support of friends, colleagues and family that will and has carried me through so far.  

Are you trying to improve your health or change your lifestyle? If so, please share your short and long term goals and plans to achieve them.
I love mountain and trail running and was 3rd in my age at the New England Trail Championships.  I won my age group at  the Marine Corps marathon last  year.  I think my best running is in my masters and am really proud of my results.  The trail running and racing has been an amazing way to accomplish new "heights" --- no pun intended.  :)

Share any humorous or inspirational training stories. If you have run in previous Chicago Marathons please share your memories of the experience(s).
My first Chicago marathon was right after my son Schuyler's 5th birthday and my sister had made me a Pink Power Ranger outfit for his party.  It was made of lycra and was long sleeve.  I brought it with me planning to run in costume.  My goal was a 3;15 and my friends thought I was crazy as a fast runner wearing a costume, but I had it in my mind and off I went to the elite corral with my pink outfit.  It was the greatest experience with all the kids smiling, people cheering me on --- "Pink Lady", "Cinderella" and once or twice a REAL fan would say "Hey mom!  That's the Pink Power Ranger!"  ---- I had such a blast!  I ran a 3:15

The next Chicago I wore tiger ears and a tail, not as many remarks and cheers, but I finished and it was that crazy marathon that they "cancelled" --- we saw everyone walking down a side street after I was complaining about my finish time to my husband Steve (I ran a 3:26) - - and thought there was another walk in town, but there were so many people.  It wasn't until then did I know that the race had been cancelled and people were encouraged to walk because of the heat.  I was pretty proud of my time afterall! ;)

This year my friend Cara, a dear friend of mine that I met through ACS DetermiNation at the Boston Marathon in April is going to run with me as my "pacer".  We are both pretty fast so we will be in the Elite Corral B.  But most importantly you will see us because my sister is making us costumes!  I am running as Wonder Woman (OH YA!) and she is Bat Girl (AMAZING!).  

Can't wait!

51 days and counting...

Here is a link to my personal fundraising page -- please help support me in the fight ---- and my fight against cancer !

What are your local news outlets that might be interested in learning more about your participation in the Chicago Marathon?
- OR -
The Sentinel 
The Republican

Write your own personal essay as to why you have decided to run the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in the space below:
Thank you for sharing your story with us. If we are able to use it in our communications outlets or with the media, we will contact you. Good luck in your preparation for the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon!

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