MARATHON

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - Joller@dis­patch.com @ju­liaoller

Upon hear­ing her di­ag­no­sis, she asked just two ques­tions of her doc­tors at the Arthur G. James Can­cer Hos­pi­tal: Could she keep run­ning? And could she run long dis­tances?

Her on­col­o­gist, Bhu­vaneswari Ra­maswamy, im­me­di­ately said yes to both. Ex­er­cise not only helps pre­vent can­cer in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, the physi­cian said, but it of­ten im­proves the out­look of those fight­ing the dis­ease.

Smith’s treat­ment reg­i­men — which in­volves two pills a day rather than reg­u­lar chemo­ther­apy — makes it eas­ier for her to main­tain her run­ning sched­ule.

“She doesn’t quit eas­ily,” Ra­maswamy said. “It’s crazy, but it’s won­der­ful.”

In the past three months, Smith has fin­ished three half­marathons; a 10-kilo­me­ter run; sev­eral 5k races; and, at the end of Septem­ber, a 24-hour run in Cleve­land. In Novem­ber, she plans to run a 50-hour race.

She has slowed her pace a bit but plans to con­tinue run­ning as long as pos­si­ble, even if her goal of qual­i­fy­ing for the Bos­ton Marathon has given way to a new fo­cus.

“My whole mis­sion through all of this is to en­cour­age peo­ple to stay ac­tive and keep do­ing the things that Chris Smith wears wrist­bands sup­port­ing his wife, Sarah Smith.

bring them joy, de­spite what life is throw­ing at you,” she said. “We all know ex­er­cise is good for us, but when you’re un­der­go­ing can­cer treat­ment, it’s dou­bly good for you.”

Smith and her hus­band, Chris — also a marathon run­ner — cre­ated T-shirts to pro­mote her goal of healthy liv­ing. The front fea­tures a blue sil­hou­ette of a racer with the words “LIV­ing with metastatic breast can­cer.” The back says “Bound and De­ter­mined,” a catch­phrase Smith picked up from an ul­tra-run­ner she met who had un­der­gone a dou­ble lung trans­plant.

The cou­ple will sport the shirts Sun­day, along with “Bound and De­ter­mined” and “Sarah Strong” bracelets that friends gave them.

Dar­ris Black­ford, the marathon’s race di­rec­tor, met Smith dur­ing a 2016 “am­bas­sador” trip to Dres­den, Ger­many, as part of Clin­tonville res­i­dent Sarah Smith is one of 11 win­ners of the 2018 Lashutka Spirit Awards, rec­og­niz­ing those “who in­spire and em­body per­se­ver­ance and strength.” The other win­ners: • Kimberlee Bir­ney, Mi­amis­burg • AJ Ceri­cola, Colum­bus • Tony and An­nie Dam­ceski, Lewis Cen­ter • Tina Deer­man, Grove City • Patrick McKennedy, Wester­ville • Molly Mandel, Colum­bus • El­iz­a­beth Palmer, Per­rys­burg • Al­lie Wen­ing, Toledo • Michelle Wor­rel­lia, Dublin

Colum­bus’ sis­ter-cities pro­gram. He stayed in touch with Smith and her hus­band, and, af­ter hear­ing about Sarah’s can­cer di­ag­no­sis, urged Chris to nom­i­nate her for a Spirit Award — named for for­mer Colum­bus Mayor Greg Lashutka, who helped launch the marathon. (The event be­came an­nual in 1980 and has been tied to Na­tion­wide Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal since 2012.)

The five-mem­ber race com­mit­tee se­lected Smith, Black­ford said, for her joy­ful out­look.

“She is just tak­ing it on and not giv­ing up,” he said. “I just think that’s a real tes­ta­ment to the strength of the per­son she is.”

Strangers have told Smith that she’s an in­spi­ra­tion, and well-known ul­tra marathoner Har­vey Lewis ap­proached her at a race re­cently to tell her as much.

But Smith, who works

for the Na­tional Trac­tor Pulling As­so­ci­a­tion, based near Wor­thing­ton, is mainly thank­ful that she can still do what she loves.

“I’ve been to so many races, and I still tear up at ev­ery fin­ish line,” she said.

Smith’s older sis­ter, Julie Aldrich, will be among the 100,000 spec­ta­tors ex­pected to line the marathon route, which this year has been al­tered slightly in the Short North to avoid con­struc­tion and on the Ohio State Univer­sity cam­pus to al­low more room for run­ners.

Aldrich, who teaches French at Canal Winch­ester High School, is home on a week­long break from a teach­ing ex­change pro­gram in Nor­mandy, France — an ex­pe­ri­ence Smith urged her to pur­sue.

“She was one of my big­gest ad­vo­cates,” Aldrich said through tears. “It’s hard to be away, but that’s her mantra, ‘If you want to do some­thing, do it.’”

Smith knows she has no con­trol over her phys­i­cal out­come — 20 per­cent of Stage IV breast-can­cer pa­tients are ex­pected to live for five years — but she can con­trol her men­tal state.

“Darn it, if five years is all I have, I’m not go­ing to walk around be­ing grumpy all the time,” she said. “No­body likes that.”

On Sun­day, she plans to run the race hand in hand with her hus­band, 61. The two met at work af­ter a co-worker heard that she wanted to run a marathon. Four years ago, they spent their hon­ey­moon run­ning 100 miles through the Javelina Desert of Ari­zona.

Chris knows the out­look is bleak, but he does his best to match Smith’s good cheer. Af­ter a re­cent back surgery, he asked his wife to pick some­thing up off the ground.

She pointed to her­self and said, “Can­cer.”

“You have to laugh,” he said. “What’s the point oth­er­wise?”

Smith feels the same about com­pet­ing in race af­ter race.

“If run­ning is part of you, of course you’re go­ing to do it,” she said. “Peo­ple have said, ‘You’re be­ing in­spir­ing!’ That’s weird. I’m just be­ing me. I’m just Sarah the run­ner.

“I’m just en­joy­ing my miles a lit­tle more now.”

Source: Na­tion­wide Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal De­tail area

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