Tim Bergsten created this Ning Network.

Running after a surprise cancer diagnosis

I started running at the age of 28, after my first child was born. Along the way, I have run a bunch of marathons as well as some shorter races and several ultra marathons. Over the years, running has kept me happy and sane through a divorce, a remarriage, and while raising my two children. My best friendships have been formed on the roads and trails. My relationship with my husband started and grew out of time spent on Barr trail, Section 16, Palmer Park and Waldo canyon. Running is still how we choose to spend our time together many years later. Running is my joy, my stress relief, and the one constant in my adult life through all of the hard times and the good.

Last year, I ran three ultra marathons. I ran the Cheyenne Mountain 50k in April, the Vermont 100 Mile endurance race in July and the Bear Chase 100k in September. I was pleased with how I ran in all three races, but some time between Vermont and Bear Chase, I realized that I was not feeling like myself. I had some testing done during September, which led to more testing in October. I had a CT scan, then an MRI and then an endoscopic ultrasound with a biopsy. Seven weeks after being the first female finisher at the Bear Chase 100k, I was in the hospital getting a pancreatic tumor cut out of my body. My surgeon removed half of my pancreas, my whole spleen and some lymph nodes. The diagnosis was pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Fortunately, it was caught early. I have a scar from my chest to my navel, but my surgeon did an excellent job and I am healing up well. Less than one month after my surgery, I was back out running on the trails with my husband.

In the blink of an eye, I went from being the healthiest person I knew to have a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer at the age of 44. Pancreatic cancer is a notoriously deadly form of cancer. I immediately started seeking people "like me". I wanted to find other people with pancreatic cancer who were relatively young, healthy, athletic and still early stage. What I found on line was that many people with my diagnosis were much older and much sicker than am I. Out of this desire to connect, I started a blog. I write about running, family, friendships, cancer and living what I hope is a meaningful life. As of this past Monday, I have completed 9 of 18 chemo infusions. Through it all, I have continued to run, live, love and write. Please check out the link to my blog below.


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Comment by CJ Hitz on March 27, 2014 at 11:10am

Thanks for sharing Tonia...you're a warrior.  Also privileged to be on the Run Happy team with you!  You're an awesome example of someone running happy despite this obstacle.  Shelley & I will keep you in prayer as you endure through the remaining chemo sessions

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