It was just 5 kilometers down a scenic route through the Arbuckle Mountains and parts of Ardmore. It was just one day in her life.


It was just 5 kilometers down a scenic route through the Arbuckle Mountains and parts of Ardmore. It was just one day in her life.

 

But the road Marietta resident Brenda Nix traveled to get to those 5 kilometers has continued far past the finish line. You might say those 5 kilometers are running on forever.

 

Nix was one of more than 1,200 of runners who competed in the 2010 Arbuckles to Ardmore Race for Mercy, a benefit marathon, half marathon and 5K event planned to raise funds to build the new Mercy Memorial Cancer Center.

 

Already in training for this year’s event on March 20, Nix talked about the changes this one single event has made in her life.

 

“It’s just a fun story,” Nix said. “I was looking through the Ardmoreite at the weekly animal ads to see what animals were available for adoption and there was a little, small article that caught my eye to the right of it about the C to 5K program. I read that and I thought, ‘That sounds like a challenge.’”

 

The article was about the YMCA’s Couch to 5K program that helped train novice runners — “couch potatoes” — to compete in the A2A race.

 

Nix certainly fit that bill. The then-almost-47-year-old hadn’t done any real physical activity since high school, but she was determined to meet her goal. She rounded up a few friends to train with her, even though they thought she was crazy, Nix said. It wasn’t long before Nix saw that her life was changing.

 

“It’s amazing the other things that started taking place at the same time,” she said. “I started watching what I ate, I looked at things differently. I lost 20 to 25 pounds during the process. I was 152 pounds Now my weight fluctuates from 127 to 132 pounds.

 

“I began to feel so much better,” Nix said. “It was just so rewarding that, my gosh, I’m doing something that I’ve never done before. It was a needle in a haystack that I saw that article, but it was a life-changing needle.”

 

Nix lost her father to cancer and ran the A2A for him and for a cousin who also died from the disease. Less that two weeks ago, she also lost her brother. This year’s race will be in memory of him and in honor of a friend who just won a battle with cancer.

 

“The day of my brother’s funeral, he came to me and said, ‘Brenda, I’m cancer free,’” Nix said. “You dedicate every mile that you run to someone and you don’t want to let anyone down, so you keep on going, no matter how hard it is.”

 

The A2A race changed Nix’s life in many ways. She now runs every other day, has a better relationship with her family, who now run with her, and has a complete network of support from her running team, Team Faith, which stands for Friends Achieving Incredibly Tough Hurdles.

 

“We are each others’ go-to people,” Nix said. “We are there for each other for anything and everything. I love encouraging my teammates. We are a group to be reckoned with.”

 

Nix said she believes movement itself is a “cure for everything.” When she has down days, running makes her feel better and gives her some alone time to reflect on her life. She called running “a double whammy” — offering physical and mental time for the runner.

 

“It’s a selfish thing. It’s something that you do purely for yourself,” Nix said. “But I’m a grandma with three grown children who are college grads and I run 5Ks with them. They come visit and bring their shoes and say, ‘Let’s go for a run.’ They love that I’m doing it now.

 

“You can change the health of your family. And it’s a bonding thing, too,” she said. “We’ve always been close, but now we have something that we love to do together. I pushed my grandbaby across the 5K line in Sherman (Texas). I’ll be able to keep up with them forever now. They’ll never outrun me.”

 

The life changes the A2A provides aren’t just for the runners. Joan Lankford, manager of radiation therapy at Mercy Memorial Health Center, said the new cancer center will continue to touch the lives of patients and their families.

 

The new facility is currently under construction on the hospital grounds and is tentatively expected to open in the spring. A new radiation treatment machine being delivered Wednesday — a Linear Accelerator — will change the face of radiation treatment for cancer center patients, Lankford said.

 

“The machine itself will drastically cut down on the time it takes to treat a patient,” Lankford said. “It will go a long way in patient comfort because they are laying on a hard table and this will cut down the time they will have under the machine. It can take a seven-minute treatment down to two or three minutes.

 

“Patients will have a tendency to travel for their treatment if it means getting treatment with the most advanced technology,” Lankford said. “Our goal is to get the word out that we will have the most advanced treatment in Oklahoma right here in Ardmore.”

 

The cancer center will also house the hospital’s PET CT unit, providing patients with better access to all levels of diagnostic equipment and treatment in one facility.

 

Lankford said the building itself is going to be aesthetically beautiful, with lots of windows, allowing plenty of natural light. Often, patients make their perception of a building and the coworkers before they even get their treatment plan, she said. The visual aspects of the facility will help make the patient’s treatment less stressful and calmer.

 

“It will be very bright, very open, with nice, soothing colors. It’s going to have very much of a home feel to it,” Lankford said. “I met with some pastoral care ladies (Wednesday) to consider some more options that we can offer the patients, like support groups, art therapy ... different things like that to be able to treat the whole patient — body, mind and spirit, not just the tumor — and we’ll have the facility to be able to do that.

 

“I’m just really excited about what’s going to be there for the community and the support that has been given for this event and the cancer center,” Lankford said.