Taking it One Step at a Time. Testimonials from cancer Survivors and Go Girl Run Champs, Melissa & Becky.

On the blog today we have inspiring and motivating testimonials from Go Girl Run participants and cancer survivors, Melissa Medina & Becky Faaborg. Below, Melissa and Becky share their personal stories, advice and tell us how taking one step at a time is the best way to conquer any race or challenge life throws at us. Their stories highlight their positive experiences with Go Girl Run Oklahoma City Charity Partner, Stephenson Cancer Center. Find out you can make an impact at Go Girl Run with Stephenson Cancer Center!

Meet Melissa & Becky at Go Girl Run Oklahoma!

  • Name: Melissa Medina
  • Location Edmond, OK
  • Best Race Time – Sub 2 hour half marathon
  • Favorite Race – I run 5Ks, half-marathons and full marathons. I love half marathons because the training is most manageable with a busy schedule.
  • 3 Fun Facts about YOU! – Two-time cancer survivor, lover of running, Professor at the University of Oklahoma
  • Name:  Becky Faaborg
  • Ageold ☺   65
  • Location:  Edmond, Oklahoma
  • Best Race Time: Half Marathon  2:42
  • 3 Fun Facts about YOU!: I am a 7th degree Black Belt in ITF TaeKwon-Do, I teach TaeKwon-Do, My husband says I am energetic, optimistic and socially out-going ☺

What is your story?

Becky: I began to train for my first half marathon in 2011 and had registered for the Dallas Half Marathon in December. At the end of September 2011, I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, and with all the emotions that circle one with a cancer diagnosis, one of my concerns was I would not be able to run the Dallas Half marathon!

My husband encouraged me to find another race, so I ran the Prairie Fire Half Marathon in Wichita, KS, on October 9th. I had surgery for Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer October 29th, 2011, and chemotherapy from Dec 2011 to April 2012.

The next 5 years I participated in 16 more Half Marathons with the last one (with cancer) November 2016.  I had a cancer recurrence and proceeded to have chemotherapy from January – May 2017. Again I was disappointed to miss participating in the 2017 Go Girl Run – I ran in the 2015 and 2016 Go Girl Half Marathons and had a great time!

Tell us about your experience with Stephenson Cancer Center.

Becky: SCC saved my life – twice!  I have been a patient since October 2011, when the center was new.  What a relaxing, warm and comforting environment for chemotherapy and clinic visits. The biggest change in 5 years between chemotherapy was the number of patients – the need for SCC is obvious by the numbers of patients.  I participated in Phase 1 clinical trial Chemotherapy for a cancer recurrence Jan – May 2017 – the staff was wonderful!  I have also utilized other departments – Physical Therapy, Radiology (Pet scans, CT scans), and counseling.

Melissa: I got involved with Stephen Cancer Center when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I wanted to receive the best cancer care possible and I knew that care was available at Stephenson because they are an NCI designated cancer center.

I received 1 year of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and radiation all at Stephenson. I continued my treatment there when I was diagnosed with a second cancer the next year and am grateful to have received such amazing care.  I now serve on the Stephenson Patient Advisory Council and on the Stephenson Board of Advocates Council.

How has running played a part in your journey? 

Becky: I began running a couple years before being diagnosed with cancer, and was training for my first half marathon. I completed that half before surgery!  During recovery from surgery, then chemo, I dreamed to be able to get out with my friends for walks, let alone runs. I ran my second half marathon less than 6 months after chemotherapy.  Run/walking has been instrumental in my recovery both times!  I have developed close friendships with other runners and survivors, as well!  Having Half Marathon goals keeps me motivated to get out there and put the miles in.

Melissa: Prior to my first cancer diagnosis, I had run the OKC Memorial Full Marathon (26.2) miles several times. I started chemotherapy in December, right before I would start training for the marathon in January.  I decided that I did not want to miss training for the marathon during my chemotherapy treatment because running that race was such an important part of normal routine every year.  

I was fortunate to have a group of friends say they would train with me for the full marathon, even if I ran slow, and that made all of the difference.  Knowing that friends were waiting for me on our long run days was an important motivator for me to get out of bed, no matter how tired I was, and go run.  

This endeavor allowed my family and friends (and me too) to believe that if I could run a marathon during chemotherapy, I could fight cancer.  It gave me a lot of hope and allowed me to maintain my normal routine and I think that normal routine helped my 2 children positively cope with the reality that their mom had cancer.  Cancer can be an isolating experience for some, and continuing to run with friends allowed me to receive emotional support, which was extremely beneficial.

How did you hear about Go Girl Run? 

Becky: I ran the inaugural GGR and thoroughly enjoyed the experience – the race support, the conversations with other runners/walkers. The first year we were encouraged to stick around to welcome the last runners across the finish line.  I ran the next year also, and had lots of fun!  

Last year I was undergoing chemotherapy.  My daughter and my  TaeKwon-Do school sponsored a water stop last year and plan to work 2 this year!

Melissa: I heard about the Go Girl Run at a Red Coyote Tuesday night run.  I signed up to be a pacer for the OKC race last year and had an amazing time!  The race was well supported along the course and the post-race smoothies in a wine glass were so fun!

What advice do you have for Go Girl Run participants?

Becky: Have FUN! Enjoy the experience, the people and the views. Celebrate friends and new friends!

Melissa: I would encourage people to include in their half marathon training plan at least one 14 mile run so they can see what running 13.1 miles feels like.  On that long run, test out the clothes you want to wear to the Go Girl so you don’t have any surprises on race day.  Training includes logging miles, but it also includes testing out clothes, determining what fuel and water you need during the race, and identifying what meals before the race work best for you.

Tell us why cancer research and the efforts of Stepehson Cancer Center is so important.

Becky:  From a personal perspective tell the GGR Community why cancer research funding is so important and why it should support even at the community level. I have been a recipient of cancer research funding – I was a participant in the Phase 1 Clinical Trial in 2017.  Previous research has provided the Golden Standard for many chemotherapy regimens, and current research is providing new and improved methodology.

Melissa: Cancer research helps make the best treatments available for patients.  Support from the community is very important because government programs and funding for cancer and cancer research are regularly cut.  A supportive community allows research programs to continue, which ultimately helps patients receive the best care possible.

How can Go Girl Run Participants get Involved at Stephenson Cancer Center?

Melissa: Participants can help patients, which may include their family and friends as a cancer diagnosis is so common, by volunteering at Stephenson to visit with patients and serve them meals when they receive chemotherapy.  My chemo days lasted almost 8 hours every 3 weeks and having friendly people stop by during the day was so helpful!  

You can also help patients with cancer by visiting them at home or reaching out and asking what they need help with.  Some GGR participants may be in a situation where they can make monetary donations too, which can help fund important programs as Stephenson such as support groups, physical therapy, and nutrition counseling.

Becky: Volunteer at the Center, fundraise, participate in fundraisers such as the Heels for Hope Foundation 5K every September. All proceeds go to SCC.

Learn more about Stephenson Cancer Center 

The Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma is Oklahoma’s only comprehensive academic cancer center. As a nationally recognized leader in research and patient care, Oklahomans no longer need to travel out of state to receive state-of-the-art clinical care.

The experts at the Stephenson Cancer Center are exploring new treatments and breakthroughs with advanced research and clinical trials right here at home. 

The Stephenson Cancer Center cancer care teams focus on treating people, not patients.

The Stephenson Cancer Center annually ranks among the top two cancer centers in the nation for patients participating in National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trials, and it is one of 30 designated lead centers nationally in the NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network.