Free State mom puts off chemotherapy to run Comrades Marathon

2018-06-09 15:00
Charmaine Nortier  (Photo: Facebook)

Charmaine Nortier (Photo: Facebook)

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When she was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year Charmaine Nortier (48) decided it wasn’t going to prevent her from tackling the Comrades marathon.

“If I can inspire just one person never to give up or to see their doctor early, it would have been worth it for me,” Charmaine, who’s from Virginia in the Free State, tells us.

This year will be the sixth time she takes part in the gruelling race.

Charmaine started being troubled by diarrhoea midway through last year. “I thought I’d eaten something or could have been stressed about the upcoming race. But I didn’t feel seriously ill and continued life as normal.”

Her daughter, Bridgette (16), kept cautioning her mom to consult a doctor about the situation.

 “Whenever I went to the doctor for something, by the end of the appointment I’d completely forgotten to ask about it,” Charmaine says.

In the December holidays Bridgette had stood on a piece of glass. The wound started festering and in January Charmaine took her daughter to the doctor. 

This was when Bridgette told her mom it was her chance to ask about her persistent diarrhoea. The doctor advised her to have a colonoscopy with an oncologist in Welkom. 

When the results arrived on 15 March, Charmaine was diagnosed with colorectoral cancer.

“It’s like the carpet being pulled from under you,” she recalls. “I saw my doctor’s mouth moving but couldn’t hear what he was saying. I was so shocked. I live healthily, I don’t smoke or drink, I exercise and generally eat healthily.”

Instead of collapsing in a heap and being miserable, Charmaine accepted the news and decided to focus on getting healthy.

When she tackled the Mielie Marathon in February in order to qualify for the Two Oceans and Comrades marathons, she already had cancer. Her oncologist encouraged her to keep running.

“I’m not a doctor, but to me running helps to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. It’s a miracle from God that I don’t feel ill. ”

Shortly before she started chemotherapy treatment on 4 April she successfully completed the Two Oceans marathon. Since then she’s also run a marathon in Benoni – and now the Comrades lies ahead. 

“I’m feeling fantastic. Since I’ve been diagnosed, I haven’t felt ill one day. ”

 She’s acknowledges the big role played by her support network. When she gets up at five in the morning and hits the road, her husband, Chris, is driving next to her in his car.

This year Chris and Bridgette also joined her for the Two Oceans and completed the half marathon. 

Her running club, Harmony Striders, also pitches in when the going gets tough for Charmaine.  

“The whole community of Virginia is praying for me. I sincerely believe their prayers are carrying me.”

On 13 June she’s due to have her last chemotherapy session. After that she’ll undergo radiation and have surgery. She’s confident she’ll emerge triumphant in her battle against cancer and is aiming for a bronze medal in her sixth Comrades.

“I’m not a gold or silver medal runner, I run for enjoyment. I’d love to finish within the 11-hour cut-off time for a bronze, but my main focus is just to complete the race.”

Read more on:    health

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