Sunday, April 01, 2007

I went back to the past!

Jeff Brown column:
Nichols out to beat cancer againby Jeff Brown / Tribune Sports Editor
The first time I talked with Danniela Nichols, she said she wasn’t afraid of the unknown. She was talking about tackling an Ironman triathlon.
She won that battle.
Now Nichols, 32, is facing a more dangerous unknown — cancer. Unfortunately, it’s not the first time. Nichols competed — and finished — the Wisconsin Ironman in Madison on Sept. 10, but she had an inkling something was amiss.
When you train for a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run, you get to know your body pretty well. There are no secrets, only ones you keep from admitting to yourself.
There it was, that dreaded, heart-stopping word that scares us all — cancer.
Nichols had been diagnosed with cancer once before. Eleven years ago she was treated for cervical cancer, and beat it. A fitness fanatic, Nichols ran, swam and biked through that setback and is determined to do so once again.
Don’t bet against her.
Better yet, give her some encouragement next Sunday at the Log Cabin in Bangor, Wis. That’s where her family and friends have put together a fund-raiser in order to help her and her family stay running at full speed.
It will be an emotional day in what has been an emotional year for the spirited, high-energy Nichols. Probably as heartwarming as the sendoff she had the day of her surgery on Nov. 2.
“I had people come to my house at 4:30 to 5 a.m. They showed up at my home on a morning it was 32 degrees,” Nichols said. “About 20 of us rode bikes from my house on Main Street in Onalaska to the hospital.
“I’m still touched by it. It was so emotional and so great I still get teary eyes thinking about it.”
Think about it for a moment. Here’s a woman facing cancer surgery and she bikes to the hospital in La Crosse to check in. Geez, think this disease is going to stop her?
And guess what? On the way, word spread of her adventure and runners they encountered along the way stopped, and shouted, ‘Go Danni. You will do fantastic.’
“It was awesome,.” she said.
Nichols underwent surgery during which her thyroid gland, which included a cancerous lump, was removed. Nichols said doctors told her it was a complicated surgery where one lymph node also was removed. Doctors are hopeful they removed all of the cancer, but Nichols still must undergo radiation treatment in January to be sure.
“I’m a very upbeat person and very positive, but when the doctor said (during the diagnosis) that this is really not normal and you need to have it checked out, then four hours later he called telling me I had cancer, it was a shocker. Having that extra support (from family and friends) really helped.”
Not having a thyroid gland has been an adjustment for Nichols as she will be on medication the rest of her life. That didn’t stop her on Saturday from taking a 20-mile bike ride with her best friend, Tracie Happel. It was her first big physical test since her surgery.
“We rode up County S. My first rule was that I was going to make it. I didn’t care if I got sick at the top; I was going to make it,” Nichols said.
Nichols, who has two sons — Tyler, 15, and Landen, 6 — knows there are plenty of bumps in the road ahead, especially after Jan. 1, when she must go off the thyroid medication in order to have the radiation treatment.
“The doctors told me it would take a 6 months to get back into shape. I’m going to do it in two weeks,” Nichols said. “My goal next year is to do two Ironmans — Madison and Las Vegas.”
My bet is she beats the odds — again.

I could only do the Madison Ironman - However Doctors didn't even think I would finish that! I proved them wrong!

"Life is great, you can never give up no matter how tough life gets"!

Again a HUGE Thank You to my two boys Tyler, Landen, my family and friends who did everything they could for me and they still do! I am one lucky women!!

Thank you again everyone from the bottom of my heart!