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    Posted December 2, 2012 by
    Hershey, Pennsylvania
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    CNN Fit Nation: 2013 Triathlon Challenge

    Learning to Fly!


    Hi Fit Nation!


    My name is Lisa and I am a forty-two year old single mom of two boys, ages nine and eleven. While being a single mom is difficult, being a single mom on one leg is even more of a challenge.


    When I was eighteen years old, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor that, unknown to me, had been growing for sixteen years. During a time when most kids were getting ready to go off to college I was preparing for a surgery that would turn my life as I knew it upside down. The fifteen hour surgery left me paralyzed on my right side. I had to learn to walk and use my right arm again. My right foot and ankle were left with a condition called “drop foot” - meaning that I would never fully regain function even after enduring many painful surgeries.


    As I grew older my leg deteriorated and I found it more difficult to accomplish daily activities. I was equipped with a home office and a wonderful job, but soon lost that due to the tragedy of 9/11. It wasn’t long after that I found myself going through a strenuous divorce, and an absent father for my boys. I had maintained being a working mom and colllege student up until fourteen months ago when I elected to have a below the knee amputation.


    My entire body was suffering because of how I have had to compensate with walking over the years. I knew something had to change soon or my long term quality of life would be compromised. I want to learn to ride a bike again and know the feeling of being able to run with my boys while they are still young. Although I never played sports, I always loved dancing, swimming and spending time outdoors hiking. The last time I remember running was in high school when I had to run a mile to graduate. I would do anything to run that mile again and when I do it will be with a smile on my face. I know when I was young I took things for granted and unfortunately sometimes it takes a loss before we truly appreciate what this life has to offer.

    I started walking and working out several years ago and found it to be a wonderful outlet, but after a couple of miles of walking I would start to trip and my foot would begin to drag. I had a brace made for my leg and it helped a little, but I wanted more. I wanted to run. I invested in a treadmill and an iPod and found myself listening to music and wanting to take off.


    I wanted to fly.

    For two years I researched the idea of having my leg amputated and connected with other amputees. What did I have to lose? Twenty-four years of my life were lost and I wanted them back. I trained for six months prior to my amputation so that I would be in optimal shape for the long recovery process. I expected to be walking in six months and running my first 5k, but instead I found myself having many setbacks and going in for revision surgery in April, 2012. I was diagnosed with a bone infection two months later when my wound would not heal. I spent the summer at home injecting myself with antibiotics three times a day through an PICC line. The infection was eventually gone, but my wound was still not healing.


    A little over a month ago I had yet another revision surgery, but my leg is now healed and I am happy to say that I am  FINALLY ready to start training for my first triathlon!

    Last June, I attended a Paratriathlon training camp in Atlanta, Georgia through the Getting 2 Tri Foundation. Although I was not able to fully participate in the three day camp because of my infection, the experience of the camp changed my outlook on life and only fueled my desire to live an active lifestyle. It is because of this camp that I found my passion and dream to motivate and help others. My journey has been one of constant struggle and sacrifice, but that has only made me stronger. One thing I have learned over this past year is that anything is possible as long as you NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give up. There is always HOPE.


    I need this opportunity to become part of the 2013 Fit Nation Team. Not just for me, but to show my boys that it is possible to overcome any obstacle and dreams do come true with determination and hard work.


    I have a message for each and every warrior out there battling and I want for it to be heard.

    I just need a platform.

    Please Fit Nation….I have waited twenty – four years.


    This is my time to shine and change my life forever!


    Ready! Aim! Fly!

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