New Brunswick

Sackville woman who recovered from spinal tumour to run NYC marathon

56-year-old Cheryl Reid of Sackville is getting ready to leave for New York City Thursday ahead of the marathon this weekend.

Doctors told 56-year-old Cheryl Reid she might not be able to walk again after finding rare spinal tumour

Sackville woman caps off running career with NYC marathon

5 years ago
Eight years after being told she may never walk again, Sackville's Cheryl Reid will defy expectations by running in the coveted New York City marathon. 0:45

Eight years after being told she may never walk again, Sackville's Cheryl Reid will defy expectations by running in the coveted New York City marathon.

The 56-year-old was diagnosed with a rare spinal tumour eight years ago. Before undergoing surgery to remove it, doctors told her to prepare herself for the worst.

"I had to think I would never walk again, I might be quadriplegic, paraplegic, I might have something wrong with my bladder, my bowel, my arms, my feet," said Reid.

It took a year of rehabilitation, and still today, Reid has no sensation in the lower half of her legs.

She considers herself lucky though that's the only reminder of the tumour she once had.

She's tried twice in the past to make it to New York. It seems like third time was the charm.

"One day I was going through a credit card statement," said Reid. 

"At the bottom there was this huge number, and I thought, what did I buy? And then my eyes diverted over and it said New York City Marathon. I couldn't believe my luck."

But making the list is only half the battle. Training hasn't been an easy feat either.

"I've tried to get into some pretty heavy duty headwinds. One day I went out I think it was 60 kilometres headwinds. I ran probably 10 kilometres in one direction, turned around and came back with the wind in my back," she said.

After months of training, Reid is leaving for New York on Thursday ahead of the race this weekend.

"I've never been to New York. It's my first trip," said Reid. 

Reid's first marathon was in Halifax in 2004 at the age of 44. In her 12 years of running, she'll have made it to nine marathons and countless half marathons. (CBC)

Last marathon

After the New York race, Reid is going to be hanging up her running shoes.

Well, sort of.

"I'm only going to stop doing the marathons. I will certainly do [half marathons] and 10 [kilometre races] and five [kilometre races]," said Reid. 

"I'll run until I can't run anymore."

Reid ran her first marathon 12 years ago, at the age of 44. She was looking for a way to stay active, as soon became hooked.

New York will be her ninth marathon. She's lost track of how many half marathons and shorter races she's done.

But in New York, she won't worry too much about her time.

"It's just a run for me, it's not for anything else," said Reid. 

"It'll just be for the experience of running through New York with all these other people. It's the chance of a lifetime."

For Reid it was also important to set an example to her children that anything is possible with the right discipline.

"It doesn't matter how old you are, you can still be active and find a passion for something," said Reid.