Alma Faz's goal has always been to run. After losing her leg during simultaneous bone cancer and ovarian cancer treatments, Alma tried participating in other sports while wearing prosthesis: cardio kickboxing, skiing, weightlifting, spinning and cycling. But through it all, she wanted to return to running. It was one of the things she missed most.
On Jan. 19, more than 15 years after her amputation, Alma not only reached her goal, but surpassed it as she crossed the finish line of the Chevron Houston Marathon.
"It was the culmination of more than three years of training, with many trials and tribulations along the way," Alma says. "It's the realization of a dream that I sometimes felt, in my early running efforts, would never become a reality."
Finding a career through cancer treatment
Alma was a college freshman when she received her cancer diagnosis. She survived both cancers, but her right leg had to be amputated mid-calf.
During her cancer treatment, Alma became interested in radiology and decided to pursue it as a career. In 2008, she graduated from MD Anderson's School of Health Professions with a bachelor's degree in diagnostic imaging. She now works at the cancer center as a computed tomography technologist.
Marathon training after an amputation
Alma had always been active, and she didn't let her amputation stop her after cancer. But it wasn't until 2010, 12 years later, that she had her first running prosthetic built. It was difficult to find one that fit, but, as usual, Alma was determined.
She struggled with feeling self-conscious after the amputation, but once she delved back into sports, she realized many places offered adaptive activities. All she had to do was look for them. Now Alma tells others never to let an amputation convince them that there are things they can't do.
"I didn't regain my self-esteem and confidence until I started running," Alma says. "It's like therapy."
Alma has found a peace in running that motivated her despite the challenges. As Alma completed the race's 26th mile, she felt grateful for all the pain and hard work, for everyone who was a part of her journey, and just to be able to run."
Being out there with all the other runners made me feel whole again. It made me forget about being different," Alma says. "I run for those who can't, for those who didn't make it. It's my way to honor them and their fight."