Cancer patient prepares for "America's Toughest Road Half Marathon"

(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE (WSLS) - One cancer patient has her mind set on running over Roanoke's hills and mountains and finishing Saturday's Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Half-Marathon.

Betsy Parkins said she wont let cancer slow her down.

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer about four years ago and in that time period I was also diagnosed with colon cancer," explained Parkins.

Since then, she's been through rounds of chemo and needed several surgeries. Despite setbacks, she remains optimistic.

"Cancer patients have a lot of challenges, but you still have to live your life," continued Parkins.

Each year, hundreds of people come to Roanoke to take part in what's become a bucket-list race. Parkins volunteered for the race last year and said she became inspired.

"I was so surprised by the number and types of people coming through and I thought this is something I can do," she said.

From then, she made it her goal to take part in this year's race. She asked for guidance from her oncologist, Dr. William A. Fintel.

"When she doesn't feel good she knows to workout three minutes and go lay down," said Fintel. "But as soon as she starts to get her mojo back, get out of her way. She's going to go do it".

As part of her half-marathon training, Parkins ran nine 5k races in 2015. With the support of her colleagues at Carilion, she saw her finishing times and confidence improve.

"They are helping me get this done, they are giving me the best gift ever" said Parkins. "They are helping me realize my goal and I would not be able to do it without them."