Mitchell breast cancer survivor running marathons in 50 states
Tehra Scott refused to let breast cancer slow her down.
Scott, an avid runner, wants to run a marathon in all 50 states, and had finished 21 marathons in 15 states before Nov. 15, 2012. That was the day she had a mammogram and, after calcifications were found in her breast tissue, a biopsy.
"I really didn't think anything of it," Scott said.
It was Scott's third biopsy in three years, but because Scott's mother, Paige, was diagnosed with breast cancer at 42 years old, Scott began having examinations at a relatively early age, and the biopsies had started to seem routine.
"This time it was a little different. This time they found breast cancer," she said.
Scott, 38, is a Mitchell resident and an honorary co-chair for the 17th Annual Heart and Sole Cancer Walk and Run, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Mitchell Middle School, 800 W. 10th Ave. The other honorary co-chairs for this year's event are Joni Rasmussen, of Mitchell, and Tanna Kingsbury, of Letcher. The event raises money for local people undergoing cancer treatment, and raised nearly $65,000 last year.
Scott remembers the moment on Nov. 20, 2012, when she found out she had cancer. She was at piano lessons with her two daughters, Cailey, 13, and Lauren, 9.
"It was a shock," Scott said. "But in a way, I think I had prepared myself that this was eventually going to happen."
Scott's cancer was still in an early stage, which meant it still could be surgically removed. On Dec. 7, 2012, a few weeks after being diagnosed, Scott had a double mastectomy, and then began a long recovery and reconstruction process.
"That's when the whirlwind kind of started," she said.
After her surgery, Scott was told she would probably not need any further treatment. But then tissue tests revealed areas of concern. She was told she would need to have radiation treatment, and possibly chemotherapy.
After getting second opinions from other doctors and talking with her family, Scott decided to forego chemotherapy, which she feared would cause problematic side effects.
So, from Feb. 6, 2013, to March 13, 2013, Scott made daily trips to Sioux Falls for radiation treatment.
"We just tried to make the best of it," she said. "Every day on the way to radiation I would try to look for something funny or silly."
Scott credits the positive outlook she maintained during her treatment to the support of her family, including her mother and stepfather, who live near Jamestown, N.D., but moved in with the family for two months after her first surgery and returned at various times during the treatment process. Scott is an assistant swim coach for the Mitchell Aquatic Club, and members of the group brought her meals for a month after her surgery. Scott's husband, Chris, said her outlook never wavered during treatment.
"She made it easy on us because she had such a good attitude," he said.
Scott said she decided early on to be completely honest about her condition with her two daughters.
"I just thought the more they knew about it, the less scary it would be," she said.
Lauren, Scott's 9-year-old daughter, said it helped her to know what her mother was going through.
"I was scared, but by my mommy told me the doctors would take really good care of her," she said.
Now, Scott is cancer free.
"I just feel lucky," she said. "I know this sounds silly, but I don't compare myself to who I was before the cancer because I know I'm going to be even better than that person I was before."
Scott was involved in Heart and Sole before her diagnosis, and was among those responsible for adding the run. She said she was surprised, but thrilled, to be named an honorary co-chair for this year's event.
"There are so many people out there who I feel are fighting much more difficult fights than I had to, so it's an honor to be out there," she said.
Since her diagnosis, Scott has finished three more marathons and added two states -- Texas and Oklahoma -- which brings her to a total of 24 marathons in 17 states. She is already signed up for another marathon in October in Denver, Colo.
"I'm not taking a single day for granted," she said.