Cancer Can't Stop Jennifer
December 11, 2013
by Jennifer Spees and Amy Cory
Just weeks after diagnosis, she ran a marathon!
I loved the Monumental! I finished in 5:36:33! After I crossed I cried from joy. I also took my hat off as I came down the home stretch! A little way of saying, "Take that cancer!"
I was very recently diagnosed with breast cancer - in September. My annual mammogram saved my life. One thing I wanted to express, besides NEVER QUIT, is the friendship I made race day. At the start line, everyone is talking, and exchanging goals. I met an angel that morning. Her name is Kathleen Holton. We spoke briefly at the start. We both were trying a marathon for the first time, and had been training since June. She and I made a promise at the very start to stick together no matter what, the whole way. Through our journey we discussed life, my cancer, our families, and pushed each other all the way. We crossed the finish line together!
The other thing I wanted to share was my family's support and love through it all. I have two teenage daughters, whom I wanted to show that you can do anything, ANYTHING you want. My husband supported me all the way too. During chemotherapy, he looked at me and said "I know you can do the marathon." I needed to hear that from him. The doctors said I could, the pharmacist at Simon Cancer center said I could, but I needed him to tell me.
I know I am rambling like I won an Emmy, but, I want to make sure that all those who cheered me on, told me I could do it, kicked my butt, etc are mentioned. So, Bev Smith, my friend, colleague and coach, Kristen Rode, friend and colleague, were my cheering squad too. As well as everyone at work, Our Lady of the Greenwood school. Amy Cory and I work together and have been friends and running buddies for years. I have asked for my registration to the 2014 Monumental for Christmas! Next year I will be cancer free when I cross the finish line!
Thoughts from Jenny's running buddy, Amy Cory:
I met Jenny when I began my student teaching, as she was my supervising teacher. We became friends immediately. I think she said to me, "Huh, you're as old as I am...", and I said, "You have great calves - are you a runner?" Almost 4 years later, we are teaching together at Our Lady of the Greenwood School (she teaches Kindergarten, I teach first grade) and running together.
When she began training for the Monumental Marathon earlier this year, I knew that if anyone could do it, it would be Jenny. And in early September, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew that if anyone could survive it, it would be Jenny. One of the first things she said to me about it was, "I'm still running." She refused to give up, refused to stop training, and refused to be mentally derailed. During an "easy" hilly 5 mile race with me (well, easy for her...) I wanted to walk for a while at mile 4. She wouldn't let me. She encouraged me until I was able to kick it into gear again and finish strong.
On November 2, in the midst of chemotherapy and the complications that go with it, Jenny was at the Monumental start line, regardless that the morning before, she had been in the emergency room. She was more determined than ever. She had asked me to be at mile 13, in case she needed me to finish with her. I was there, even though I hadn't trained for a half, ready to do it anyway. When she crossed the halfway mark, she looked great! She had made instant friends with another runner, who was pacing her. I hugged her tight when she said she didn't need me to finish with her, (knowing I would only slow her down!) and as I ran my normal 6 miles that afternoon, I thought about the courage and strength she not only possesses, but that she gives to those around her. She is an inspiration to all who know her, and a model of faith and perseverance to her daughters and to all of her students.
Amy Cory contributing