– Triathlete, Motivational Speaker, and Fundraiser –
“I fight for those that are unable, especially for children suffering from cancer, as there is a very significant lack of funding for pediatric cancer.”
BethAnn Telford, a lifetime athlete who is a Fairfax, VA resident, is a courageous, strong, determined, and caring person. BethAnn held onto one word during her medical, physical, and emotional challenges: HOPE. That one word inspired her to leap over each hurdle life put in her way, carrying the hearts of others in her hands along the way.
In 2004, while running the 2004 Marine Corps Marathon, she felt a popping sensation in her head at mile nineteen. The diagnosis was dire; she was told she had a malignant brain tumor, and was forced to take a time out from her normally active lifestyle to undergo surgery. Immediately after the surgery to test her strength, the Doctors tested her extremities to be sure she could feel her legs, toes, etc. She was in pain and was afraid she would not be able to move and afraid of loss of functions. Everything went well, but as part of her recovery process, BethAnn had to teach herself how to walk again. As she gained her strength back, she stood and then started her first steps. She was determined to recover quickly and to not give up. As her strength improved each day, she used the hospital ward hallways as a circuit and tried to go further each day with her friends and family besides her.
BethAnn was definitely afraid of losing some cognitive function. Even now, when she is very tired at the end of a long day, she has difficulty with saying the right words and tends to slur her speech. It seems like the words she wants to say are on the tip of her tongue, but she can’t seem to get them out. A month after surgery, BethAnn entered a local 5K race, the first in what would be a long string of acts that would prove her unique strength and determination. Motivated by doctors, family, and friends to walk the race rather than run, Telford took their advice until she was about halfway through the event, but seeing her father cheering for her sparked something inside her and she started running and finished the race that same way.
That same year, Bethann continued to push herself and competed in the Marine Corps Marathon. She then proceeded to take on several sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons, as well as Half Ironman triathlons; nothing was going to stop her!. Brain cancer, rather than slowing her down, has pushed her through three Ironman competitions and three Boston Marathons—not to mention quite a few “Turkey Trots” in Virginia Run.
Propelled by the knowledge that brain cancer is the number one disease killer for children under age 20, Telford frequently rises at 3 a.m. to train. The kids are what keep her going—literally, when it comes to her next Marine Corps Marathon. Telford will dedicate each of the 26 miles to a child she knows who has cancer, or children she has known who have passed away. Twenty-six children (or their loved ones), one for each mile, will act as her “coaches,” running by her side to encourage her.
Just ten days after she completed the Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii, BethAnn Telford was back at work at the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington, where each time she emerged from her office, she earned a new admirer. Colleagues, security guards, and guests in the building — all peppered the 43-year-old special events coordinator with congratulations for finishing one of the world’s toughest races. Many just stared at her in amazement.
BethAnn learned from her father to be independent and that she could do anything that she set her heart and mind to. Running was always a way to push her boundaries and to see how far she could go. After the surgery, she was determined to get right back to where she was before and to not let this change how she lived her life. Running was a way to test her and push her boundaries all over again. It became a yardstick to measure herself by, and she was determined to not come up short.
Since her recovery, she has averaged around three to four marathons a year. Usually one or two in the spring and one or two in the fall, so she would say she’d probably run around 30 marathons, give or take a couple. “I think the most I’ve done in a year was five, the Shamrock Marathon and Boston Marathon in the spring, and the Air Force Marathon, Steamtown Marathon, and Marine Corp Marathon in the fall,” she says.
Dr. Tiffany Sotelo from George Washington University Hospital, performed two surgeries for the implant of a neurostimulator to help control her bladder functions. Though these surgeries have helped, her bladder has continued to decrease in capacity and has reached a point were Dr. Sotelo is concerned about the function of her kidneys. BethAnn underwent a cystoplasty (bladder) augmentation to relieve the stress on her kidneys which will hopefully allow her to better control her incontinence. As an athlete, she still has to worry about when she can’t control her bladder, but she has increasingly learned to be a bit bolder and to not stress as much over it.
BethAnn Telford, an endurance athlete with a brain tumor, successfully completed the 2017 World Marathon Challenge on seven continents in seven consecutive days. Telford was the only American woman in the race. She ran to raise global awareness about brain cancer and raise $1 million for research supported by ABC (Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure).
“I showed cancer that I’m a fighter. My brain cancer is still not gone, but since diagnosis I have run every MCM. Through Pacers Running Stores and Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, I fight for children with cancer who cannot fight themselves. My motto in running and life is Never, Never, Never Give Up!” BethAnn says. To learn more about BethAnn, visit her website: www.teambt.org To learn how you can help generate greater awareness of brain tumors and brain cancer, visit www.abc2.org. BethAnn is a Cancer Warrior Ambassador for Team Inspiration, and today Team Inspiration offers programs to help our cancer warriors heal body, mind and spirit. For more information, go to www.teaminspiration.org.
BethAnn in her own words
How does it feel to be an inspiration to others? Did you ever expect to become an inspiration?
I don’t intentionally try to inspire others, rather I try to be an example to others to show that anything is possible and to never, never, never, give up no matter your difficulties. The fact that I inspire others is something that I truly enjoy, especially for the many young children who are battling cancer that I advocate for. It is the smiles on their faces, which motivates me to keep going.
Why are Triathlons so inspiring? What makes this sport so special around the world?
I believe Triathlons are so inspiring because they push your limits and allow you to accomplish something that you probably wouldn’t think you could do. Though you only need to try, and once you do, you find that you can do anything.
When did you start participating in triathlons? Where was your first competition?
I started in 2006 in the Northern Virginia area with a Sprint Triathlon.
What motivates you in life?
The thing that motivates me most is advocating for brain cancer/tumor research and knowing I played some small part in helping to find a cure.
What would you say to other people with similar ambitions?
Find your passion and use that to motivate and inspire yourself and others.
Who inspires you? Why?
The thing that inspires me the most is when I visit a pediatric cancer ward and meet children who are battling cancer, and to see them with smiles. Every time I feel down or think I can no longer can go on, I think of them and they pick me up and enable me to finish.
How did you deal with obstacles in your life?
I am fortunate enough to have great support from my family and friends. Their commitment and encouragement allows me to overcome any obstacle especially when I have to reach out by hand and be lifted.
What do you like most about Triathlons?
What I especially like about triathlons is the camaraderie and the people. Everyone is a winner. People cheer for the first and the last finisher for every triathlon no matter who you are or what your circumstance. There are no losers, there are only winners.
Mention major accomplishments in your life other than triathlons
Brain Cancer Fighter/Survivor, Advocate for Brain Cancer Research, 2 Time Boston Marathon Finisher, 13 Consecutive Marine Corps Marathon, Finisher Bladder Augmentation, Raised Over $500,000.00 for Brain Cancer Research through my Team BT (www.teambt.org). Motivational Speaker Testified Infront of the FDA for Brain Cancer Drug Advocacy Lobby Congress for Brain Cancer Awareness.
Do you support or represent any Non-Profit Organizations?.
Yes, I have raised more than $500,000 for brain cancer research through my team, Team BT, as part of the Race for Hope – DC 5K Run/Walk sponsored by Accelerated Brain Cancer Cure www.abc2.org, and the National Brain Tumor Society www.abc2.org. Team Inspiration empowers individuals living with cancer by developing exercise & wellness programs that improve their physical, mental, and spiritual quality of life. Join the team at www.teaminspiration.org.