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Over the past nine years, Carol, 60, has completed one full marathon and ten half marathons, most of which were in Pittsburgh. Participating in the half marathon is a point of pride for her, even though she admits that, rather than running the race, she walks at a fast pace. She enjoys staying active and trains for the annual event by walking several miles a day, three to four days a week.
Life has brought her a few different challenges through out the past 11 races. In January 2011, Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy and started radiation treatments. Despite her health issues, Carol was bound and determined to meet her annual goal of completing the half marathon. After her tenth of 33 total radiation treatments, she went for it and completed the half marathon.
She then decided that she’d like to do the half marathon in Philadelphia that November. That would give her something to look forward to doing, once she completed her radiation treatments. Sure enough, by that fall, Carol reached her goal.
“Can you believe I was able to complete two half marathons, after being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, all in less than a year’s time?” asks Carol. “I’m thrilled and thankful that I was able to do that.”
Carol has now been cancer-free for six years, but all that marathon training took a toll on her knee. X-rays showed that she had mild arthritis in her left knee. Her doctor encouraged her to keep moving, both to help her knee and to stay healthy. He also suggested that she go to UPMC Centers for Rehab Services for physical therapy in the fall of 2016.
“I was skeptical at first,” remembers Carol. “I didn’t think I needed physical therapy for something minor like arthritis, but I’m so pleased I gave it a try. It helped me much more than I could have expected.”
Carol went to CRS Green Tree, conveniently located within walking distance of her home, where her therapist, Melissa, prescribed various exercises to help her knee. She did stretches, lunges, and used an exercise band to strengthen her knee. Melissa made sure to answer Carol’s questions and gave her notes on how to do the exercises correctly, so that Carol could do them at home.
When training for the half marathon in 2016, Carol had severe knee pain and needed to take pain medication throughout her training period. However, when it came time for the 2017 half marathon, Carol had kept up with her physical therapy exercises at home and didn’t need any pain medication during her training.
“My husband was waiting for me at the finish line, with pain pills in hand,” says Carol. “But I didn’t need any medication. I felt great!"
“I absolutely think my physical therapy at CRS is what’s responsible for helping my knee feel better so that I can continue doing the half marathons with no pain, just gain.”