Four years ago, a woman suffered serious health issues from carcinoma.
Now, Carleen Bell of Hartford is a marathon runner despite those setbacks and is even part of the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s Aiello Inspiration Team.
She said she started running in her late 30s. She was right in the middle of chemotherapy treatments.
Bell believed running helped her healing.
Carcinoma, or bile duct cancer, is a cancer that comes from the cells within the bile ducts, both inside and outside of the liver.
Bell said she wouldn’t let it stop her.
"It’s hard, it hurts at times and you're exhausted,” she said. "And this is something that is positive and fun, and I feel good after."
Though she’ll be tough to spot in the crowds taking over Hartford for the marathon, Bell will be at the starting line for the second straight year. She’ll be racing her third half marathon.
"I feel great, I really feel great,” Bell said. “I'm able to run, do all the activities I want with my family and my friends. Mostly, it's a mental game."
She said she was diagnosed with the cancer four years ago.
“It’s cancer in the bile duct and it already spread to my liver,” Bell explained. “I wasn't given a good prognosis. You hear cancer and it's immediately life altering."
With skilled doctors and an aggressive treatment, Bell went into remission for a year and a half.
Last September, however, the cancer came back.
She finished another round of chemo just six weeks ago.
Despite that setback, she said the running continues to help the healing.
"It gives my mind a break,” Bell said. “It allows me to socialize. My husband, when I'm having a really hard time, he's like go for a run! Go run! I started running during my first chemo, and I had never run before."
Bell said she developed a great support system through Fleet Feet in West Hartford.
This year, a friend nominated Bell to be a member of the 2015 Aiello Inspiration Team.
"It made me feel better,” Bell said. “Mentally, physically, and then once I took the break from chemo, I realized I could go a little further. But running has always been for me an emotional outlet and definitely a social thing."
Bell encouraged everyone, despite their challenges, to find their own niche that works.
“I would strongly encourage, if it’s hard, I've been there, when you're so down about what's going on and how could this possibly happen to me, you know with some help, you have to get up, and you just have to try,” she said. “You got to try."
Bell also asked people to register for the nationwide genome project through the Mayor Clinic on the cholangiocarcinoma website online. A link to that can be found here.
“They just need people of all backgrounds and ages to register,” she said. “They just send you a blood kit, take the blood, get the blood drawn and it’s totally free. And it’s a way you can help out, for free."
Bell also established a fundraising page for the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation called "Slow and Steady Wins the Race." Here is a link to it.
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