Why did we choose that picture of Melissa Montalto running in the 2011 New Jersey Marathon, for our blog banner? Here’s why:
“I began running about 10 years ago and never dreamed I would run a marathon. I have run two and the New Jersey shore has always been the backdrop. Looking out over the ocean as I finished was always a source of calm, strength, and inspiration. My first race was the Asbury Park Marathon 2010 and the second was The New Jersey Marathon 2011. The NJM was my fastest time to date and soon after it ended I began planning for my next marathon and a faster finish still.
However, six weeks after my marathon pictured above, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was only 32 years old. I had been following a lump for six months and testing revealed it to be malignant. It was the last thing I ever expected. I was the mother of three small children ages 4, 6, and 7, a wife, and a fitness instructor.
Instead of getting back onto the road to begin running again, I underwent a double mastectomy and then chemotherapy. I worked through most of my chemotherapy but was unable to do any serious running. When the time to train for The New Jersey Marathon in 2012 came around, I found my lungs would not take me more than a few miles. I was told my chemotherapy regimen could particularly affect the lungs. So, I took the year off but knew I would be back to race another day.
Slowly, I began running more and more and my strength came back. I am ready to run a marathon again and I can think of no better place to come than the NJ Shore. The Shore is fighting back from the worst hurricane in its history. We are both “Up & Running” again. We are both coming back. I hope our resilience will inspire others to realize they can overcome any challenge.”
What an inspiration Melissa is, and we are very glad that she, and her husband Nick, will return to race with us on May 5th! Please feel free to leave a comment for Melissa, and for others.
Do you have a story of adversity overcome? Tell us about your story here or send details to Stories@NJMarathon.org.