Sue Falco of Charlotte, North Carolina, was in the best shape of her life last winter, training with the Omega Sports running group for her first half marathon at Rock ‘n’ Roll, Nashville. Five weeks away from the race she felt a pain in her side that, as a colon cancer survivor, she knew was more than just a side stitch. Soon after, a CAT scan confirmed that her cancer had returned, this time in her lungs.
Sue didn’t consider herself a serious runner when several months after her first diagnosis, four years ago, she signed up for a 10k and discovered she loved how strong running made her feel. Soon after, she became a race director for the Get Your Rear in Gear 5k, a fundraiser event for colon cancer research. Sue’s energy and passion helped grow the Charlotte race into the 3rd largest Get Your Rear in Gear in the country.
Unwilling to give up the strength and joy that running brought to her, Sue declared that she would complete the half marathon in Nashville as planned. She was touched when her training team decided to support her through the race by running the 13.1 miles alongside her.
Three weeks before the race, Sue had surgery. Two weeks before, she started chemo. On race day, she and her team ran and completed the race together in 2:42. Mike Vance, an Omega Sports employee and run group coach, offered further support by running the entire marathon course before joining the team for the half, using his run to raise money for Get Your Rear in Gear.
Sue says that having the team with her was such a celebration. “The support I get from my running group…It’s bigger than running,” she says. “I have every excuse to not get out of bed, but I’m inspired by the people in my group to get out there. I always have support and I always have people I can run with.”
Sue maintains a blog, Long Distance Hero, where she writes about running, her training, and her fight against cancer. This past weekend she competed in her first triathlon. Sue’s next race is the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Through it all, she strives to remind people that running is first and foremost about fun, and even a little physical activity can make a world of difference.
“My diagnosis is devastating,” Sue says. “I can dwell on it or create something amazing from it. I always choose the road labeled AMAZING.”