Mind Over Matter

Mind Over Matter

This blog about Mind over Matter. The attitude of perseverance and overcoming obstacles. Welcome to our new guest blogger and friend of Chronically Awesome; Cheryl.

CherylFor over 17 years, I have been a stage 4 cancer patient. After that diagnosis came a whole slew of other conditions including, diabetes and hypertension just to name a few. I have undergone more surgeries than I care to count.

I am currently in need of surgery on my right foot, so I bet you never thought a 5k would be in my future. I know I never did! For as long as I can remember, exercise was never a focus in my life. While losing weight and exercise was always on my mind, but I never had the motivation to get started, or, like many, stick with it.

A few months ago, I had a possible “mini stroke”. I will never know for certain because the night the symptoms happened I didn’t go to the hospital. My cardiologist told me I needed to get my blood pressure down. I was terrified. I kept thinking “here I am beating cancer only to put my life at risk with something I had some control.”

That is when I thought “what the heck, I have to start somewhere!” So, I purchased some walking shoes, leggings, big t-shirts, and headed to the local rec center. I looked around and saw people stretching; it seemed like the right thing to do, so I emulated the stretching of the fittest looking people around me. “Fake it until you make it,” right?

With music in my ears, I began my walk around the track! I lasted all of two laps, huffing, and puffing, feeling like I was going to die. My legs were killing me, my feet were killing me, and I thought my lungs were exploding. So, I left.

The next morning, I got up and felt like a truck had run me over. I was sore everywhere, but I couldn’t give up yet. I remembered the words “mind over matter” and I headed back to the rec center. I did the same as the day before. I had a goal; maybe today I could do three laps.

That was when I read the sign on the wall; it takes nine laps to go a whole mile. Are you kidding me? My daughter does 5Ks and half marathons, and I am here struggling to make it two laps around the track. Despite this, for the very first time, I thought it may be possible to work up to a 5K. I didn’t make it nine laps that day, but I did make it three laps!

Pretty soon, three laps turned into four, then five, then six, and one day it was nine! I had made it to a mile!

I kept at it. I felt empowered. I was achieving something unbelievable! A few weeks later, I heard about the “Officers Down 5K” in Cleveland, Ohio. My son is a police officer, so I thought, “how neat would that be to do the 5K with him?” In spite of my body’s protests, I kept walking. I walked further and further every day and finally registered for the 5K. I was doing this! I had to do this.

I was going to walk 3.1 miles.

I found a friend that had never done a 5K and enlisted her help to walk with me on the big day. Jogging was out of the question as I had a tumor on my spine, but power walking was doable.

Cheryl Walking

Just Keep Walking! Me in black.

The day of the race, I was so nervous; “What did I get myself into?” I thought. Runners were everywhere, stretching, looking so physically fit. I glanced down at the Fitbit on my wrist and checked my heart rate. It was already 106, and I hadn’t even started yet. I looked at my friend, and we said we can do this. Before I knew it everyone was moving forward, most were running, some were walking. Off I went, feeling excited about the possibility that I was going to complete an actual 5K. Feeling good, no real aches or pains, I was enjoying myself.

Somewhere around a mile and a half, “What did I get myself into” turned into.,  “Am I crazy?” I was huffing and puffing. It almost felt like that very first day at the recreation center. Somehow I continued, even after my right heel began to hurt terribly. I knew — somehow, someway, anyway — I was going to accomplish this feat. I remember my daughter saying, “mind over matter, mom,” so I continued despite the pain radiating through my heel. I contemplated taking off my shoe and walking in my sock to relieve the pain. I knew a blister had formed on my heel and broken. My heel was a disaster, but I wouldn’t stop. I was so close to finishing. I knew I would feel so accomplished. I felt that, regardless of the obstacles, I was going to do this.

And, I did it!

crossing the finish line

I Did It! My time at the finish.

The feeling I had when I crossed the finish line and saw my time (55.35 minutes) was sheer delight. I had made it in under an hour; that was my goal. Heck, who am kidding? Making it at all was my goal. To my amazement, I had completed the entire 5K.

That is when I realized, even though we have hardships, things that can hold us back, if we press on we can accomplish many things in our life — no matter how short our lives could be. No one knows when our time will come. What I know is that for 55 minutes and 35 seconds, I felt free, and nothing else mattered.



cabloggersWe are grateful to Cheryl, for sharing her inspiring story. If you have a story to tell simply email your blog in a text, Word, or Pages file to contact@chronicallyawesome.org. You do not have to be an experienced blogger or writer to share your story, we can help, just write! You post will appear here and on our Chronically Awesome Bloggers page. You may also simply visit
 The Chronically Awesome Bloggers and post your link. We will share your blog (or other ChronicIllnesss related writing) to the page and our Blog Support daily twitter paper.

8 thoughts on “Mind Over Matter

  • Cheryl,
    You are such an inspiration. Learning about all that you have overcome, all that you live with day-to-day made me feel that any problem that I may have is so small. If you can do what you do, live with what you live with, then I need to suck it up, hold my head higher, and be grateful.
    THEN seeing that you made the choice to get up, lace up your shoes, and do something that was both healthy and philanthropic astounded me beyond words.
    We are proud to have your words on our site. Deciding to share your story is brave. It is an honor that you picked Chronically Awesome as a place to share.
    There is no doubt that you will inspire people to move just one more step forward. Whatever that step may be. Just one more step, mind over matter.
    Thank you!

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  • I am so proud of you, Mom! You did it. You really did. Not only did you accomplish your first 5K, but here is your first blog. It’s definitely a year of firsts for you. Congratulations! – Cara

    • Thank you Cara! I have this amazing daughter who supported me and said….its just mind over matter! Love you.

  • Hi Cheryl!

    I’m so glad I got to read your incredible story. Everyone has their struggles but it’s the people like you, those who radiate positivity, that get others through the day. It’s so easy to look at a bad situation and “give up,” but you didn’t which is so inspiring. Just like all things in life, everything is about perspective. A 5k to you might mean something completely different for someone else. One of my closest friends was in a terrible car accident about 7 years ago – the kind of accident where doctors tell you to pull the plug. Her mom, thankfully, didn’t listen. Not only is she here but she herself is walking 5k’s to prove to the world (and perhaps herself) that “mind over matter” exists. I look forward to hearing about your next adventure, whether it’s another 5k or your next heart’s desire. Thanks for sharing and keep on keepin’ on.

    Take care,

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! Your friend sounds so awesome and amazing! Odds can be against someone, but I believe in exceptional people and believe those people can do amazing accomplishments!

  • Cheryl,

    Thank you so much for sharing your inspirational story. A stage 4 cancer patient of 17 years?!? That’s incredible! The fact that you’re doing well enough to consider exercise is amazing, even if you hadn’t accomplished the 5k.

    But you did finish the 5k, even through the blister adversity. That’s determination! That’s commitment!

    I’m glad to hear you feel empowered by achieving your goal. It seemed impossible, you faced challenges along the way, but you conquered through. You saw yourself through.

    I’m so glad you blogged about your story so the rest of us can feel inspired knowing that people like you are out there, pushing through adversity to appreciate life.

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