Cancer survivor running for Gold
IF YOU told Debra Walz she'd be running in the Commonwealth Games two years ago, she would have "laughed her head off”.
But come April 15, the woman from Verrierdale will be lacing up to represent Buderim cancer support group Bloomhill in a 5km run.
After battling bowel cancer in 2014, and then breast cancer in 2016, Ms Walz said she never could have imagined being a part of history on the Gold Coast.
"If anybody had suggested that to me, I would have laughed my head off,” she said.
"The thing is, cancer brings with it so many blessings. It's given me the opportunities to do so many things I never would have considered.”
Ms Walz always loved running, but after her first diagnosis of bowel cancer she was told by medical professionals to give it up.
After making contact with Bloomhill during her breast cancer treatment, the organisation supported her in taking up the sport she loved again.
"Through Bloomhill and their wonderful support systems I was able to ease myself back in to exercising,” Ms Walz said.
"I started running again.”
She had applied to be a volunteer for the Games before her breast cancer diagnosis.
She said she was heart-broken to learn she would have to go through the cancer treatment process again.
"Devastating is probably an understatement,” Ms Walz said.
"The first time round with the bowel cancer it was quite a horrific experience, I had six operations and was hospitalised for three weeks.
"With the breast cancer that meant surgery, mastectomy as well as chemotherapy, and radiation.
"When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I thought that I'd better let them know about my current health situation. Due to that, my application was declined.
"I really wanted to be part of the athletics area which where my interests lie. I went through the process.
"Unbeknownst to me, they'd already put in to place the Gold Run. I got an email saying 'we'd like to offer you a place in the Gold Run'.
"There was a qualifying time I had to be able to prove I could run 5km in under 30 minutes, which I could, so they accepted me.”
Ms Walz said she owes her recovery to the support she received from Bloomhill, as well as family and friends.
"Along with their support and the support of my family and friends, I wouldn't have been able to get through this journey.
"It's been a long journey the last few years with bowel cancer and breast cancer, to look forward to something like this quite enlightening.
"I wouldn't wish it on anybody, but I think if you address it with a positive attitude, the attitude of a survivor, I think that will take you a long way to surviving, and seeing every new day as a new opportunity.”
Ms Walz kept a diary during her bowel cancer treatment which was collated in to a book of memoirs called A Whole New Me: Getting to the Bottom of Bowel Cancer.