Joan knew something was off, she just didn’t know what. After almost two years of hospital visits and possible explanations, doctors finally found the answer; Hairy Cell Leukemia. The rare cancer put her in the hospital for more than two long months while she underwent chemotherapy. The heavy doses of medication and other treatments left her in the worst shape of her life.
One day during Joan’s recovery, her daughter went to the North Y for a workout while home from college, and Joan decided to tag along. After about 10 minutes on the treadmill she knew she had to do something different. Looking to turn her physical state around, she was determined to come as often as she could. “I just decided to start coming [to the Y] again. I felt better the more I moved. I didn’t have any grandiose goals or anything, this wasn’t to lose weight, this was just to feel better.” Gradually, she worked herself up to coming to the Y for two hours every other day, eventually pushing herself to run 5 miles each time she came.
Joan was no stranger to running, she had completed multiple Bloomsday runs earlier in life but following the treatment of her leukemia she hadn’t returned to that activity. Putting her running shoes back on, Joan had bigger goals than running in Bloomsday again, she set her sights on completing a marathon. Using the North Y as her home base, she ran outside around North Spokane when the weather was good, and inside when it wasn’t so favorable. During her training, Joan kept herself on the treadmill for upwards of four hours, seeing familiar faces and sharing her journey with others all along the way.
Last December Joan traveled to Hawaii and completed the Honolulu Marathon. “Then I thought ‘now what?’ I’m in the peak of my condition, I can’t go back.” She then completed the Newport Marathon with her daughter in Oregon and is planning to run the Honolulu Marathon again this December. “I feel I have more vim and vigor. I have more energy. I know I can do anything.”