3 weeks after chemotherapy, Susan Glynn takes on the Tely 10

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3 weeks after chemotherapy, Susan Glynn takes on the Tely 10

Susan Glynn's apartment is a shrine to the accomplishments of a healthy woman.

She displays every medal, trophy and bib from road races and Royal Regattas in years gone by.

There is a photo of her standing in front of Signal Hill after completing a 20-kilometre grind through the hills and cliffs from Cape Spear.

In the corner, set out in front of a chair are her running shoes, prepped for another gruelling competition.

But despite all the athletic achievements on display, Susan Glynn's health is not as strong as her will to live.

"Last April, I found out that my cancer had come back," she said with a pragmatic tone.

Glynn has Stage 3 ovarian cancer — a disease that kills 61 per cent of women within five years of diagnosis. Glynn is on Year 4.

On Sunday, she slipped on her running shoes in the morning dawn, blew out the candles in her apartment and shut the door behind her.

She was off to Paradise, to compete in her seventh Tely 10. It would be her fourth with cancer.

"There's 40 to 45 women that will be diagnosed this year [in the province]," she said before the race. "And 32 will pass from it. So I want to be able to say to those ladies, 'You've got to stay active and stay positive. Support is out there."

Not far removed from chemo

Minutes before 7 a.m., Glynn hopped on a school bus full of competitors for the 10-mile road race and headed for the starting line.

It's only been 21 days since her last chemotherapy treatment. This round has been especially hard, she said, landing her in the hospital for a couple weeks due to its painful effects.

Glynn's body has been pushed to its limits by 26 chemo treatments in four years.

Once she arrived at the starting line, she didn't avert her thoughts from the cancer. She leaned into it for the strength she needed.

"I'm going to be thinking about some of the ladies who passed away this year — women who lost their battle with ovarian cancer," she said. 

"I'm also going to be thinking about the ladies who are going through chemo and radiation and a lot of different things."

Her doctor was waiting around the middle of the course, just in case anything happened.

Walking the hard road

Less than an hour into the race, the first group of elite runners crossed the finish line at Bannerman Park in St. John's.

After two hours, the light joggers wrapped up their race.

The walkers were coming down the home stretch after three hours, but Glynn was nowhere in sight.

Five minutes later, Glynn rounded the corner at Bannerman Park to the cheers of her family and supporters. She walked the last stretch with a smile on her face and her goddaughter at her side.

Her only moments of doubt came at mile markers eight and nine, she said — both outside of funeral homes along the route.

But in the 10th mile, she found inspiration from the cheers and high fives of spectators.

Glynn used this year's race as a way to spread awareness of ovarian cancer and promote her support group, Women of Hope. She raised more than $1,400 for cancer research in the province, and is still accepting donations.

After crossing the finish line, Glynn walked a little further to collect her medal — another to add to her wall of victories.

Despite being in the fourth year of her disease, Glynn is keeping a busy calendar and already has her sights set on another Tely 10.

"Number eight will be sweet next year."

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