Just before my wedding in 2012, my mum found out her colorectal cancer had returned. Could it be operated on a second time, or would palliative chemotherapy be the only option?
Everyone she spoke to said “Sorry, it can’t be treated.” But my mum was a triathlete, and as fit and strong as it was possible for a 60+ woman to be. She regularly trained to be able to complete the 3.8km swim, 180km cycle, and 42.2km marathon of her favourite endurance event: the Ironman. She has finished Ironman seven times, and four of those have been in Hawaii, the greatest race in the world. So based on that alone, one doctor was willing to take the chance.
The operation, in February 2013, was a success – but also a lot bigger than they’d expected. The cancer had spread so it was complicated, and they had to remove a kidney too. After that, chemo was mandatory. It was a long course and made her feel very weak.
October 2013 marked her one year anniversary from the last Ironman she raced in Hawaii. It was also when her doctors pronounced her fit to “resume normal life.” Her goal was to compete once again in the sport she loved. She started, after her chemo, from the absolute bottom. She couldn’t swim 200 metres or jog for half an hour. She set a goal: to compete in a half Ironman, back in Hawaii. And she started a blog to monitor her progress.
Well, the reason I’m telling this whole story is that she did it. And here is her race report from beautiful Hawaii, where she completed the Ironman 70.3.