When life threw Michele Prieve Wilkinson a curveball with a breast cancer diagnosis, she chose positivity. A survivor in more ways than one, she just completed her second Ironman Wisconsin competition last month. Wilkinson, who is gracing the cover of Brava magazine this month, participated in her first Ironman just 10 months after finishing cancer treatment.
When Wilkinson found a lump in her breast, she expected it to be benign. When she instead received the call that she had cancer in September 2008, she was determined to fight it on her terms. She resolved to turn her diagnosis into a launchpad for positive changes in her life, and began racking up accomplishments she never dreamed possible. Her choice to find humor and hope in life’s darkest moments carried her through difficult treatments and even several marathons. Instead of making the anniversary of her diagnosis a grim reminder of tough times, she chose to dub it her “Canciversary” as a celebration.
Throughout her cancer treatment, Wilkinson set out to carry on the activities in her life that were important to her. She continued to teach group fitness classes in her hometown throughout chemotherapy just like she had before her diagnosis. As her most aggressive treatment was completed, she ran a half marathon. Inspired by what she could accomplish, Wilkinson started devoting her marathon feats to raising money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. In 2009 she raised $24,000, passing her original fundraising goal of $10,000. Now, she competes in honor of women who are fighting the cancer she was once so intimately familiar with.
Ten months after her treatment ended, she participated in the 2010 Ironman Wisconsin, her husband and friends waiting for her at the finish line. After that victory, she vowed she would never do an Ironman again, but this year she proved herself wrong and participated in her second Ironman on her five-year Canciversary — and completed it an hour and 10 minutes earlier than the first time around. What an inspiration! [Brava]