With her oncologist, her husband and 125 other family members and friends by her side, Jenn Andrews completed her first 5K race since losing her foot to cancer six months ago.
Saturday’s race was the longest run Andrews, a West Forsyth graduate, had done since her below-the-knee amputation in March following diagnosis for a rare form of cancer.
“It was awesome, one of the top 10 best days of my life,” said Andrews, who runs with a springy blade prosthetic. “I was a little nervous — there were definitely hills and inclines — but I ran the whole thing without walking and even sprinted a bit at the end.”
After her surgery, Andrews, 34, pledged to run a 5K by the end of the year with her doctors, friends, family and supporters by her side.
When the mother of two learned about Charlotte’s “Isabella Santos 5K Race for Kids Cancer” and the race’s mission, she amped up her training, determined to participate.
“The one thing that’s so much worse than what happened to me is if it happened to a child,” said Andrews, who grew up in Clemmons. “What I had was a rare cancer, so I was 100 percent on board with their mission.”
Race entry proceeds from the 127 people who signed up to run Saturday’s race with Andrews will go toward the “Move for Jenn Foundation.”
The foundation aims to raise awareness about sarcoma and to offer grants for other amputees to offset the cost of activewear prosthetics, which can cost up to $50,000 and are not covered by insurance, she said.
While her Saturday 5K time, just under 40 minutes, was 10 minutes slower than what she used to run, Andrews said she’s just happy for the opportunity to run again.
“It was emotional. I felt really accomplished and happy,” said Andrews, who now lives in the Charlotte area. “It goes to show that even with obstacles in the way, you can find a way to make it happen.”
Andrews’ post-surgery recovery process was a slow uphill battle, marked by small victories along the way, she said.
Through physical therapy, Andrews learned how to walk with a prosthetic and slowly was able to do some of the things she loves, like fitness classes, playing with her kids and walking her dogs.
It’s a juggling act to make sure she doesn’t overdo it, but seeing how far she’s come in just six months is a huge accomplishment in itself, she said.
“I would love to do another 5K in the future and, eventually next year, a 10K, which is something I’ve never done before even with two feet,” Andrews said. “This process has really taught me how precious life is and how the world can change in a blink of the eye, so never forget what’s most important.”