The fact that she was readying for her final dose of chemotherapy didn’t stop Leslie Hayes from doing what many people will never do – compete in a half-marathon.
“That’s one thing that I hold on to – being able to lace up my shoes in the morning,” Hayes said of her morning routine where she has consistently run or walked two to five miles every day since being diagnosed with invasive ductile carcinoma earlier this year. “You lose a lot with cancer, your body, hair, nails, some people even lose jobs.”
Leslie said she made up her mind to fight the aggressive form of cancer from the moment she was diagnosed.
“A lot of people get that diagnosis and give up,” she said, noting she runs, in part, to help cycle the chemo, which she calls “poison”, through her body. “Taking chemo isn’t the hard part, it’s what happens the days and weeks after. The upside is you don’t have to shave your legs.”
Leslie participated in the 13.1-mile Middle Tennessee Half in Murfreesboro along with daughter-in-law, Becky Clark, daughter, Cora Youngblood and Ashlee Hart. She noted that Hart is also a paramedic. She has been running since 2012 so this was her fifth Middle Tennessee half.
“I had my own paramedic along with me,” Leslie laughed. “I would usually run the half-marathon but my doctors said I had to walk it. They were amazed how my body was able to do it.”
Looking back on her journey thus far, Leslie recalled a mishap at home was what clued her in to the fact she had cancer. She revealed she fell and it left a knot on her. When she went to the doctor, they began investigating the knot but could not say it was definitely cancer even after biopsy and mammogram. It was only after they went in and removed it.
“There is a myth that breast cancer doesn’t hurt,” Leslie warned. “Mine certainly did. Everybody’s pathology is different.”
Leslie says that fighting cancer takes a village, noting the support of her husband, family and friends.
“It also helps to have a lot of prayer warriors in your corner,” she added.
Leslie took her last round of chemo this week and plans to move on the surgical portion of her treatment in November.