It might sound like the script of a Hollywood movie, but in fact, this is the true story of Isabella de la Houssaye.
Always active, always training, Isabella had won a half marathon race just a month before receiving the terrible diagnosis. At first, she thought the symptoms were caused by some sort of sports injury and mostly ignored them. Pain is part of the life of any athlete, though reality can be much too cruel sometimes.
One of her life dreams was to compete in the Ironman challenge where more than 8,000 people contend for 2,500 starting spots. Dubbed as the “world’s most difficult one-day sporting event”, the race entails a 2.4-mile swim, biking for 112 miles and then running about 26.2 miles. The only problem was the event happened to be right in the middle of her treatment program.
For most people, just taking part is an incredible achievement. Actually completing it while having stage IV lung cancer? Astonishing!
At that point, Isabella had a 7 centimeters tumor in her lungs, six tumors in the brain and smaller masses in the sternum and the sacrum (pelvis). Nothing could slow her down though. Her time was 14:56:56.
In February, when she had started treatment there were almost no motor skills left in her right leg. Over the next few months, she managed to slowly start walking, at first with canes, then unassisted and eventually running.
“Failure is not defeat until you stop trying” is the motto she kept repeating to herself. Putting one foot after the other, she became stronger with every passing day.
Even with this stunning performance and getting in such an amazing shape, Isabelle is aware that the disease is still present. Unfortunately, she continues to be at stage 4. The drugs can’t make the cancer go away, just stop progression.
This is what makes her tale even more extraordinary, a true lesson in surviving and overcoming all obstacles – don’t let your disease define you or prevent you from fulfilling your dreams. Believe, fight and never stop!