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North Andover woman Susan Hurley returns to run Boston Marathon after beating stage four ovarian cancer

By Anna Meiler

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    NORTH ANDOVER, Massachusetts (WBZ) — One year ago, Susan Hurley was supposed to run her 15th Boston Marathon in a row.

“But, then last year I had a major setback,” said Hurley.

That setback was a diagnosis she never saw coming.

“I found a little lump on my collar bone and I went to the doctor for my regular checkup. I wasn’t concerned, but she was, and they did all kinds of tests,” she said.

It was ovarian cancer and it had already progressed to stage four.

“I was taking care of myself. I was running. I was doing everything right, but as we all know cancer doesn’t discriminate. And just very surreal even looking back at it – a moment I can’t seem to put it into words,” said Hurley.

All the sudden Hurley was faced with two major surgeries and six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, but she used her marathon mindset to get through every uphill battle.

“Being a marathon runner, I knew how to be tough, how to be resilient and I faced it just like I would the Boston Marathon or a race and no matter what came to me, no matter what they put me through, it was another challenge,” said Hurley.

Hurley isn’t just a marathon runner. She’s also a critical part of what makes the race so special. Fifteen years ago, she founded a company called CharityTeams that helps runners reach their athletic and fundraising goals.

“Thousands and thousands of runners that have raised- we’re over $32 million now in funds raised since I started which is pretty incredible,” said Hurley.

Hurley works with dozens of teams, including the Patriots and teams that were created in honor of two of the Marathon Bombing victims: Martin Richard and Lingzi Lu. Teams that have turned pain into purpose.

“Incredible stories of perseverance and survival and the charity runners are the heart and soul of the Boston Marathon. They are the people all the spectators come out to watch because of those stories. It’s really a beautiful thing.”

It’s those stories that helped Hurley get through the toughest year of her life.

“How can you not be inspired by the stories? I hear them all the time. So, it gives me a lot of hope. I’m lucky,” said Hurley.

Hurley is now cancer free and this year she’ll be back out at that starting line.

“I’m disease free now. I’m not looking back. I don’t go that way. I’m a marathon runner. I go forward,” she said.

She hopes by sharing her story, she will help raise awareness about ovarian cancer.

“A lot of attention has to be paid to this. It’s an important women’s issue and we need more done for it,” she said.

Hurley also hopes to inspire others.

“Life is a marathon. How do you get through it? You get through it by facing it and doing good. Take what you’ve learned and pass it on to other people. Be an inspiration. We all get scared of things, let’s go, keep going,” said Hurley.

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