For the first time ever, the Ulman Cancer Fund was able to expand one of their programs to Howard County, Cancer to 5k, with the help of Mady Mules Physical Therapy Sports Rehab. Cancer to 5k is a free 12-week training program designed to introduce and/or reintroduce cancer survivors to training for and completing a 5K road race. The program requires a certified run coach, cancer survivors that are either going through or have very recently finished up treatment, and volunteers to provide one on one support for those participants at every practice and ultimately on race day (called sherpas).
The program came from an idea from nodular melanoma Survivor, Holly Gannoe-Shoemaker. At the time of her diagnosis in February 2005, Holly was an active triathlete and also training for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. After 2 major surgeries and aggressive chemotherapy to remove the melanoma, Holly had missed several scheduled triathlons and began to back off her exercise regimen. Realizing she could not exercise to her full potential due to her treatments, she still wanted to do as much as she could.
She worked with her oncologist to create a plan for her to continue treatments while still training for the marathon. On October 30, 2005, accompanied by two friends who served as her own “Race Day Sherpas”, Holly successfully completed the 2005 Marine Corps Marathon using a run/walk interval plan which allowed her to maintain of pace of 14 minute miles, beating the 14th Street Bridge cutoff, for an official finishing time of 6:08:09. Holly finished 17,303rd out of 18,806 official finishers.
After her experience, she realized the effect that exercise had on her mindset as she was going through her difficult treatments. Maintaining a positive ‘half full’ attitude with the finish line in mind, was what got her successfully through treatment, across the Marine Corp Finish line, and ultimately as a survivor.
With the support from the Ulman Cancer Fund, Holly took her experience and created the first Cancer to 5k team in February 2007 in Arlington, VA. Since then, over 25 cancer survivors have successfully completed the program with the help of over 40 volunteers in the Arlington, VA area. I am proud to say that most recently in Howard County expansion, we had 5 survivors successfully train and race in the Baltimore Running Festival 5k. Thanks to Coach Te’ and the many Team Fight volunteers Alyssa, Cameron, Amy, Faith, and Lauren are official 5kers!
CONGRATS TO THE HoCo CANCER TO 5K PARTICIPANTS AND A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO COACH TE’ AND THE STAFF AT MADY MULES!