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Mom Runs BCRF Tough Mudder to Honor Strength of her Late Mother-In-Law

By BCRF | March 4, 2016

Jen Fitzgerald is competing in the epic race to support breast cancer research

Jen Fitzgerald will never forget the moment when she learned her mother-in-law Sue’s breast cancer returned. Unfortunately Sue had faced the diagnosis once before – ten years earlier – well before Fitzgerald joined her family. Now she feared for the worst.

“I was scared for her and greatly saddened by the thoughts of losing her. But her strength was unwavering,” Fitzgerald said about Sue’s second diagnosis in 2003.

The next year was hard. Fitzgerald and her family supported her throughout treatment and were in awe of her attitude.

“Watching her wither with each chemo treatment was unbearable. There's really no words to truly describe the strength she had,” she said.

After successfully completing treatment, Sue was in remission again for another ten years. However, in 2014 she learned she developed lung cancer. She died on April 24 2015, just two weeks before her 76th birthday.

To honor her memory, Fitzgerald decided to run a Tough Mudder for BCRF. The epic 10-12 mile mud obstacle course encourages teamwork, camaraderie and is an incredible challenge for all of those involved. Besides training, Fitzgerald is committed to raising at least $500 for BCRF.

“I'm a girl who likes a challenge, who likes to push myself to my limits. So I respond, why not?” Fitzgerald said.

This is the second time she is competing in a Tough Mudder event – and says Sue’s memory keeps her motivated.

“From the moment I met Sue, I admired her,” she said. “She pushed me to follow my dreams and reminded me to never give up.”

While she has enlisted the help of a personal trainer, her family has also joined her training efforts including her 10-year-old son Riley.

“We go down to the park and use the jungle gym like an obstacle course. He makes me follow him through the entire course over and over,” she said.  “He pushes me to be strong and willful.”

While Fitzgerald is running the Tough Mudder to honor Sue’s memory, as a hair stylist she frequently meets families who have also been impacted the disease. While these encounters are difficult, she says they remind her of the importance of her upcoming challenge.

“My hope is that, by getting more people to support the research, no child will have to try to understand why their mom, their aunt or their grandma has to battle this disease,” she said. “The only way to find a cure is through continued research.”

Interested in running a Tough Mudder for BCRF? Click here to find an event in your area.