Don’t Be Defeated By Your Diagnosis
Who inspires you? This week we celebrated the lives of two American icons: John McCain and Aretha Franklin. Their tributes spoke of courage, talent and above all American grit.
Grit is not only strength of character, but having the mettle to never let life’s curve balls bring you down. Today I’m sharing the story of a mother-daughter duo who demonstrate this determination.
They’ve been running races together since 2013. Last year Christine was diagnosed with severe aortic valve stenosis and had heart surgery. Three months later she did a half marathon with her daughter, Jamie. Here, in their own words, is their story.
Tell us a little bit about you and your mom.
Christine: Jamie and I have always been close. I especially am fond of
the many Mother Daughter trips that we took after she was married. I
am also very grateful that she lives close. Jamie has become a
confidant for me, for the times when I needed to talk with someone
about difficult personal issues.
Jamie: We have always been close. Growing up as an AF Brat created a special
bond between us. My mom has always been there! As I’ve gotten older our
relationship has grown closer. We enjoy spending time together, taking mother-
daughter trips (and now all-girl three generation trips (mom, daughter,
granddaughters). My mom is a blessing to me and my family.
Were you always a fit family or did this come later in life?
Christine: I have always enjoyed walking, bike riding and eventually
running. We were a fit family, but it was on an individual basis not as a
family event. The business I work for holds a 5K run every November; I
convinced Jamie and her brother, Christopher, to come run the 5K with
me a few times. Through a work teammate in 2010 I took up running
again, this time long distance running – I ran my first half marathon in
2010. This was a milestone, since I also have asthma. In 2013 I
convinced Jamie that she should expand her running and run the San
Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon with me. That was the beginning of
our Mother Daughter running. We have run a half-marathon each year
since then and one year we ran four.
Jamie: Growing up I was typically involved in something (soccer, softball
and then swimming). Mom did great having sit down family dinners and
trying to ensure we were eating good foods. I wouldn’t say my family
now has always been fit – active, but not fit. I was challenged by a friend
to try Beach Body about two years ago, this changed my perspective on
how I fuel my body and put me on a course to be fit inside and out.
As for running, well I was walking briskly and eventually started slow
running. Enter mom and her challenges! Christine challenged me to my
first 5k, then to run the Austin Cap10K not even 6 months later and then
she shocked me by signing me up for my first half marathon (didn’t ask,
just signed me up). Mom was there the whole time. We ran each of
these together. Yep, for my 40th birthday I decided it would be cool to run four half
marathons in a year. With the support of my mom and family WE DID
IT!!! I love my mom, the support she provides and our ever-growing
How did the medical scare impact each of you?
Christine: Well, the diagnosis of severe aortic valve stenosis and the
eventual surgery, didn’t stop me. It was a hard diagnosis; I wasn’t
having any symptoms, so why I should stop running? After much thought
I opted to decrease my fitness activity to walking – walking at a very
brisk pace. In December 2017, Jamie, Christopher, my friend Mary and
I participated in the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon. Jamie and
Christopher ran the race while Mary and I walked the 13.1 miles. Jamie,
Christopher and their families and my husband met us at the finish line
with posters. The Lord blessed me. Looking back today – this was a
wise choice on my part.
Jamie: Shocked is a good way to say it. The thoughts going through my head
were all over the place – She’s my mom, Will she make it? Surgery… What I can do?
How bad is it really? back to She’s my MOM! It took a few weeks to come to grips
with it. A lot of prayer and requests for comfort, peace, grace and wisdom.
Despite the diagnosis and the good health my mom is in, we pushed forward with
our first mom + kiddo half marathon. We were joined by my mom’s dear friend
Mary. We’d been planning it for 6 months, can’t back out now. While it did alter
how my mom participated (walked 13.1 miles – personally believe this takes
more guts and stamina than running it), we still did it as a family. My husband,
kids, dad and niece we’re waiting at the finish line for each of us to cross! No lack
of cheering from our crew!
Why did your mom want to run so soon after the diagnosis?
Jamie: She’s no quitter. She sets goals and goes after it. If hurdles come up, she
assesses and alters the approach. Such an amazing role model! Plus she has a
strong need and desire to stay active. We give praise for my mom’s health and
the quick healing she has had.
Christine: I actually enjoy running and the bond that Jamie I have
running together. After I was released by the surgeon, I wanted to get
back to where we left off. On the spur of moment, I signed up for the
Austin Capital 10K with the goal of walk running the race (this was three
months after surgery). It was awesome. This is one of Jamie and my
What is your favorite quote and why?
Jamie: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our
eyes on Jesus.” Hebrews 12:1-2
This a reminder to approach each day with a grateful heart, to persevere and to
keep our mind/eyes fixed on Jesus. Running gets hard and around mile 9 or 10
or 11 it takes all your might to keep going, praying for perseverance, feet like
wings has helped me pull through more times than I can count.
What is one piece of advice that you want to share with women going
through something similar?
Christine: Don’t be defeated by your diagnosis, modifications in activity
may need to be made, and thank the Lord for your blessings.
Jamie: It’s never too late to start moving or go after a goal/dream. If something
gets in the way, change tactic and keeping pushing forward. Focus on the
Future fitness goals?
Christine: I intend to be running with you until I can’t do it anymore. As
Jamie and I passed elderly runners on our runs, I would tell her that is me in
my 80’s. I enjoy running with my daughter and being an encouragement
to her. I now have arthritis in one knee that is preventing me from
running…however, I can still walk and walk fast. I will continue to
encourage Jamie in her running and hope to be able to run shorter
races with Jamie – 5K or 10K.
Jamie: Good question Lisa. I am currently thinking through what my next fitness
goals will be. Right now its getting back on track with half marathon training
(December is just around the corner, I am running, mom is walking w/Mary). I
have had a crazy thought of maybe giving a baby triathlon a try.
Christine: The Lord is awesome and a daughter’s love is very special.
Jamie: A mother-daughter bond is special! Remember to call your mom often, tell
her you love her and spend time with her. Think positively. Encourage others!
Thank you both for sharing your story!
P.S. – Do you know someone with an inspiring fitness story to share?
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Lisa Traugott is a personal trainer, Mom’s Choice Award writer, original cast member of FOX/John Cena’s “American Grit” and has a monthly fitness column on Bowflex.com. She won Ms. Costa Rica Sports Model 2017 and her transformation story was featured in Muscle & Fitness Hers, Good Day Austin, Great Day Houston and Texas Monthly. She blogs at ShesLosingIt.com and is passionate about her clients.
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