Deanne Thompson hams it up with her running group — the Roadrunners — before their daily run from their gathering place at The Running Room in Churchill Square. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
At last year’s Tely 10, Deanne Thompson cheered on her running partners as they crossed the finish line.
She wanted to be running along with them, but she had a pressing ap-pointment with ovar-ian cancer surgery the next morning.
Thompson, 49, a trained nurse, had begun making lifestyle changes as she entered her 40s, hoping to stave off weight and health issues.
She joined a friend taking a running clinic and trained for the Tely 10 in 2009. She’d actually run the race before, in 2002, but didn’t stick with it. This time, though, she did. “With this friend, I kept up the running and we formed our own little running group with a couple of friends,” she said.
Thompson said it was the support that helped her lose weight and improve her health.
In 2010, she ran four road races.
“I was never a speed demon, but really successful for my ability,” said the St. John’s woman. “I really lost weight and was really doing well.” She finished the year with the Cape to Cabot in October — 20 kilometres from Cape Spear to Signal Hill, the last mile an uphill punisher up to Cabot Tower. “That was just such an accomplishment. You’re just ecstatic being able to say you did it,” she said.
Two months later, the cancer diagnosis laid her low.
“I was told in the very beginning that I had an incurable, inoperable disease,” she said. Chemotherapy followed — seven months of treatment that cost her training time — but rather than feeling cheated by the cancer coming at a time when she was living a healthy lifestyle, Thompson said it was her much-improved health that helped her fight it.
“Some friends even said, ‘It’s crazy. It’s almost like your body knew this was going to happen and you prepared yourself for this type of journey,’” she said.
Last year, she sat at the finish line taking pictures of her running mates — the Roadrunners — as they finished the race. She found herself near the family of six-time winner Colin Fewer — who would add his seventh title that morning — and chatted with Fewer’s stepmother about her battle with cancer.
“My ambulation was affected. I had to be assisted to get up out of a chair to walk down over the hill to take the pictures,” she said. “She was almost in tears talking to me about my story, and I said, ‘Don’t you worry. You’ll be here next year, and next year I’m crossing this finish line.’”
Her surgery was successful, and she has since been deemed cancer-free, but her struggle wasn’t finished. First she had to learn to walk again, and then — with her oncologist’s permission — got her running shoes back on to start pounding the pavement with the Roadrunners. She has a little leftover nerve damage in her feet, meaning she has to be a more careful about where she places her feet, but the support from her running group — during her illness and her recovery — has meant the world to her, she said.
“They’ve continued and they’ve improved, and I’m the cow’s tail of our group,” she said. “But they all run back to me. They all support me.”
She has since managed to run 13 miles, she said, so she knows she can finish the Tely’s 10-mile course. Her goal for this weekend’s race is for a time under two hours, but she’ll settle for just completing it.
“I just want to do it. I want to tell this cancer, ‘I beat you,’” she said, laughing.