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Amateur Athlete: Susan Holt

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Susan Holt always took care of her body. Four years ago, Susan, an avid runner and healthy eater, was feeling great when her body betrayed her.

“I ran my fastest half-marathon in May, two weeks before my diagnosis,” Holt said. “I had no signs, symptoms, nothing except for just this very small lump on my collar bone.”

A month later, the middle school PE teacher, cross-country coach and mother of two was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkins’ Lymphoma.

“I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it because I know my body, and to just have a little lump that was there but feel so good and feel so healthy and strong, it just didn’t seem right,” Holt said.

Faced with a long summer of chemotherapy and radiation, Holt relied heavily on support from family and friends.

“They were amazing. I didn’t have to cook all summer,” Holt said. “They just kind of rallied around, wanted to help in any way they could.”

“We’ve been friends for a really long time and getting the news that she had cancer was very difficult, but I knew that she would be a fighter,” said Leslie Keiser.

Holt’s weapons of choice in that fight were her running shoes.

“The getting outside, you know, just being outside, and being able to do any kind of running just really mentally probably even more than physically was really I think important to get through that summer,” Holt said.

Keiser was right there with Holt step for step.

“We did one thing before she went into chemo,” Keiser said. “She’d start early in the morning, and we would meet. Sometimes we’d meet at like 4:30 or 5:00 at her house, and we’d run before her treatment.”

“We would run as far as I could run that day,” Holt said. “That was kind of my thing. I just wanted to push myself as hard as I could, and it made me feel like I could handle it.”

Holt ran nearly every day throughout her treatment, not just on chemo days.

“It’s so important to me that I just thought I’m going to do it as long as I can, and my doctor thought it was great, and it made me feel so much better,” Holt said.

After radiation that fall, the cancer has shown no signs of returning.

“They don’t say that you are cured. They say you’re in remission, but I feel like I’m cured,” Holt said. I mean, I really think I am. I think it’s gone, and I don’t expect it to come back.┬áI kind of feel like, man, if my body could go through all of that and still feel the same, I must be okay. Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. Your body is pretty amazing.”