- Twelve years ago, marathoner BethAnn Telford was diagnosed with brain cancer
- She’s since lost sight in her left eye, experiences seizures and uses a catheter
- But the 47-year-old who lives in D.C. wants to inspire other cancer survivors
- On January 23, she will start her run of 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days
It was in the middle of a race that runner BethAnn Telford first knew that something was wrong.
She heard a loud pop in her head as she ran the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2004, but completed the remaining seven miles.
A few months later, a trip to the hospital and an MRI scan revealed her diagnosis: brain cancer.
Twelve years on, BethAnn, 47, still has live cancer cells. She has lost control of her bladder, suffers seizures, and has lost sight in her left eye.
But now is challenging her energy into inspiring other cancer patients by trying to do the seemingly impossible: seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.
Tragic: BethAnn Telford first knew something was wrong when she heard a loud pop in her head as she was running a marathon. The brain cancer survivor now wants to inspire other survivors by running seven marathons in seven continents in seven days
An MRI scan revealed that BethAnn, 47, had brain cancer. The tumor left her blind in her left eye, prone to seizures, and shut down her bladder forcing her to use a catheter
Before her diagnosis, Washington D.C.-based BethAnn was an avid marathon runner.
So when she went in for the military run in Arlington, Virginia, in 2004, she didn’t have any qualms.
In fact, she had made it through most of the 26.2-mile race when her first symptom struck.
‘Mile 19 and I felt a huge pop in my head, almost like going up in a plane,’ Telford told Fox 5 DC.
Although BethAnn was able to finish the race, other symptoms soon followed: distraction, unable to remember dates or names, and she even couldn’t locate the bathroom at work.
Eventually, an MRI scan revealed a brain tumor. She concealed the diagnosis from her parents for almost six months.
BethAnn said: ‘The hardest thing in my life so far was telling my parents that their child was probably going to die from brain cancer. I didn’t want to devastate my family because I didn’t want them to know that I might not be around much longer.’
In 2005, surgeons removed most of the tumor and, since then, she’s undergone several brain surgeries. BethAnn has had to relearn relearn how to walk and talk, and worked her way up to jogging and running.
But she was determined to not sit back and watch herself deteriorate. Five months after her first surgery, BethAnn started running again.
Her first marathon after surgery was the same race during which she first experienced her brain cancer symptoms. She’s run in it every year since.
And now she’s taking on something bigger. BethAnn plans on participating in the World Marathon Challenge – a race to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.
Throughout the challenge, BethAnn will run marathons in Antarctica, Chile, the United States, Spain, Morocco, Dubai and Australia.
Her 183 miles of running begins by flying from Chile to Antarctica to run on January 23 and ends in Sydney on January 29.
By the end of her adventure, BethAnn will have traveled almost 60 hours by plane.
Inspiring: BethAnn is still living with live cancer cells in her body, but is determined to complete the World Marathon Challenge – 183 miles of running starting in Chile on January 23 and ending in Sydney on January 29
Determined: BethAnn (pictured at the end of the NYC Marathon) will be wearing shoes that will be decorated with pictures of children battling brain cancer
Because BethAnn is still living with with live cancer cells in her body, there are plenty of problems she faces. The tumor caused her to lose sight in her left eye, she discovered she couldn’t have children, and she sometimes experiences seizures which made her give up driving.
‘I also have a major issue with my bladder,’ she told Fox5DC.
‘Due to my brain cancer, my bladder shut down several years ago.’
BethAnn uses a catheter because she says her bladder can only handle the amount of liquid in a shot glass. So she’s more concerned about the bathroom breaks than the long distances.
Dr Henry Brem, chief of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins and one of BethAnn’s physicians, said he was so astonished by her dedication that he is invigorated to find new treatments.
He told CNN: ‘Sometimes we as neurosurgeons who are on the front lines do it because we’re motivated to help people and we’re trained to do. But we take an amazing amount of inspiration from patients like BethAnn.’
BethAnn has partnered with Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, a nonprofit devoted to raising funds for brain cancer research. She’s so far raised more than $ 800,000 out of her goal of $ 1 million.
Hopeful: The marathoner said she knows she won’t finish first in the race but that her ‘finish line’ is when a cure for cancer is found
Meanwhile, footwear company New Balance has donated 14 pairs of shoes for BethAnn to use during the competition.
The shoes will be decorated with pictures of children battling brain cancer as an homage to all children with the disease, specifically the ones who cannot afford treatment.
BethAnn says she knows she won’t finish first in the race, but that’s not her ultimate goal.
She said: ‘My finish line isn’t sitting at the end of the line of this big, epic event. My finish line is when someone announces there is a cure.’