Sometimes when it rains, it pours. Carolyn Petschler is very familiar with that cliché. During a particularly difficult time, while struggling with Crohn’s disease and a recent foot injury, Petschler took a precautionary trip to the doctor for an examination after a colleague was diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer.
“It was a huge wake-up call,” Petschler says of his colleague’s diagnosis. “So I went in and decided to have a mammogram. I hadn’t had one in 10 years, but I felt the lump and [it] it turned out to be a cyst. But what I didn’t know is that [the doctors] he would find two other lumps, one on each breast. Then I went for a biopsy, and it turned out to be radial scar tissue and [the doctors] He called it “other areas of concern.” So now I will be monitored for the next two years and I will have mammograms every six months or so. “
While Petschler was still being monitored, he began researching his family history. Petschler soon learned that her grandmother had breast cancer in her late 40s, close to the age she is now. This sparked a conversation with Petschler’s family, including his two children: Jack, 16, and Mary, 13.
“You automatically think the worst and then they do the biopsy and you’re waiting for the results,” says Petschler. “So you get the results and it’s not the ‘Hey, you have it all clear.’ I think the only interesting thing I learned in the process is that it’s not ‘you have it’ or ‘you don’t have it’. It is a continuous process in which many people will have to be supervised. Every woman is different and has her own family history. “
While dealing with a cancer scare, a Crohn’s outbreak, and supporting his colleague, Petschler still found the strength to compete in the New York City Marathon this November, which happens to be the 50th anniversary of the race.
But Petschler’s journey to the finish line began long before she started running.
As a five-year veteran of the U.S. Navy who has also been a military wife for 13 years, Petschler was no stranger to challenging work. However, when it came time to start a new career, the transition was not as easy as I imagined. Although he had a degree in public relations, Petschler had no intention of ever using it. That was, until 13 years later.
Between her degree and her volunteer work in the military space, Petschler found a position with a prominent public relations agency in New York, where she worked for six years as a senior vice president in the public affairs department. Due to her military background and being the only veteran of about 200 people in the company, Petschler worked in everything related to the military.
“It was intense work and I was looking for a change,” says Petschler. “I know the military space very well.”
As his career continued to grow, Petschler wanted to have something outside of work that was his alone. So, five years ago, you turned to career as a way to help de-stress between your work life and your home life. But, what started as a “me time” hobby quickly turned into a passion.
Petschler started small, doing casual runs through Central Park and even running 5K races when he got the chance. This eventually led Petschler to join the Whips snatched, a New York-based running team, who helped her improve as a runner and challenge herself in her training.
“This was something that was for me,” says Petschler. “It wasn’t about my children. It wasn’t about work. It was personal. It really is a competition with yourself, and that’s why I like it. Usually I hate those first few miles; even now I hate him until I get into the euphoria of the corridor. “
A few years later, Petschler ended up in the Navy SEAL Foundation in the development department, but his passion for racing never stopped. Her determination to continue training and running the New York City Marathon is due not only to Petschler’s breast cancer scare, but also to the courage she saw in her colleague’s struggle to survive. It was an eye-opening experience for Petschler.
As the marathon approaches, Petschler realizes that his training journey has been an unusual one. But despite numerous health problems, she is determined to run. After recently watching her teammates compete in the Boston Marathon, Petschler found the added motivation she needed to keep pushing herself in her training, and whether that means walking or running the marathon, she’s focused on enjoying the moment.
Petschler will compete on the Navy SEAL Foundation marathon team, but she’s running for more than just herself and the SEAL community; She is running to support those with cancer and cancer survivors, and crossing the finish line will mean more to her now than if she had not persevered through the difficult times she faced this year.
“I already know that the marathon is going to be incredibly difficult and it will definitely be a big challenge for me, even walking halfway,” says Petschler. “But I just want to. It’s been on my bucket list for at least five years. So I’m excited, unable to crawl [to the finish line]If I have to go in, I’ll make it happen. “
Emilee White is the editorial and marketing director of Good sport, a media company dedicated to increasing the visibility of women and girls in sport.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.