LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - In the late 1990s, Nancy Lombardo's mother unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack. Just months after she died, her dad learned he had stage four terminal lung cancer and only had months to live.
Lombardo's dad lived in New York but packed up his things and moved Lawton to be with his daughter and undergo treatment here.
"Oh my God, it was priceless," said Nancy Lombardo, a runner in the upcoming Spirit of Survival Race.
After a year of being with his daughter, he lost his battle to cancer.
"After my dad died, I went into a horrible depression… I felt like I had two lives... I'd have one life at work and I'd go home and I'd have a completely separate life. I was depressed. I had gained 60 pounds. I could not get myself out of it," Lombardo said.
While watching TV, Lombardo saw a commercial about running a marathon and decided to try it. She started training. A year later she had lost all the weight she had gained and ran her first marathon.
"At the end of that marathon I just remember crying and feeling accomplished and feeling that I honored my dad," Lombardo said.
After that race, Lombardo kept running. Eleven years ago, when she heard about the Spirit of Survival event starting, she jumped at the opportunity to help cancer patients and their families.
"So when the spirit of survival race came up, which is all about cancer, money for cancer, survivors, and victims...what a great opportunity to continue his honor. So, I participated in that race since the first day," Lombardo said.
Over the years, she's led groups training for the spirit of survival. She knows what it like to take those first steps, because of what she went through.
"If they're going through the process of taking care of someone who has cancer, I've been there. If they going through the mourning process, I've been there too," Lombardo said.
She says since she's been there she believes that she can be helpful to those going through it now.
"Some people don't want to talk about it and I understand that so sometimes it's unspoken support, sometimes it's spoken support but it's just the face that everybody is out there in support," Lombardo said.
If you'd like to support the event it's not too late to sign up to walk or run in either the half marathon, quarter marathon, or 5K in October. They have training secessions going on every Saturday morning at Dick's Sporting Goods to have you better prepared for the event.