As a health and well-being organization, we cheer residents, clients, and team members whose commitment to wellness enables them to make positive, lasting enhancements to their lives. The following is a guest blog post from Mary Jo Koehler, Events Coordinator at Lending Hands, WesleyLife's Adult Day service in Washington, Iowa. Mary Jo writes about Marg Teets, a Lending Hands participant, whose commitment to physical well-being has helped her cope with numerous challenges.
Marg Teets has walked through many challenges in life and just keeps on walking.
Earlier this year, Lending Hands Adult Day Center held its annual Lace Up for Lending Hands 5K/1 Mile Run/Walk and Pancake Breakfast. Marg, a participant at Lending Hands, set a goal to walk/step ten miles during this event.
She started at 6:00 in the morning in her home town of Kalona and, walking back and forth to Casey’s convenience store, she completed two miles. After arriving at Lending Hands, she walked one mile on the Lace Up trail. Then she climbed on a NuStep recumbent cross trainer to complete the final seven miles of her journey (which equals 14,000 steps). Occasional breaks gave her the stamina to keep going in spite of cramps during the very last mile. At around 10:30 a.m., Marg finished to cheers, whistles and congratulations from her family and Lending Hands friends.
Life hasn’t been easy for Marg, but her positive, cheerful spirit of survival has provided energy along the trail, as is attested to by her family and friends. The most challenging part of her recent journey began in 2008 when she was found to have cervical cancer. Fortunately, it was treated surgically and no chemotherapy was needed. In 2010, she had a partial mastectomy due to breast cancer; again, no chemotherapy treatments were required.
However, in 2012, she was treated with radiation and chemotherapy for colon cancer, which nearly destroyed her immune system and led to extreme weakness in her body. Though Marg had always favored walking as a way of keeping fit, this weakness kept her from that activity for quite some time, and in those months, she and her family weren’t sure she would make it. But Marg is a survivor. She regained her strength, and although more colon cancer was discovered in 2015, surgery was able to eliminate it as well.
There were more challenges for Marg between 2013 and 2015 that extended beyond her own health issues. In 2013 her daughter was also diagnosed with colon cancer. Fortunately, after several months of treatment her daughter was proclaimed cancer free. Marg’s husband was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2013 and succumbed to this illness in March of 2015. Her son was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2014 and was given 3-6 months survival time.
However, due to his faith and the love and support of his family, he lived 16 months, passing away in 2015 on Thanksgiving Day. In spite of all of this, two weeks after Marg’s surgery in July of that year, she was on the road again, walking 1.5 miles on the Mid-Prairie High School outdoor track. It’s clear that the strength and spirit that carried her and her loved ones through this trying time is a Teets family characteristic that stretches beyond physical health.
As Marg tells her story, she makes a point, again and again, of sharing how many people and organizations assisted her throughout this time. To express her appreciation, Marg chose to utilize her love of walking as a way of raising funds for the organizations that served her. “It doesn’t begin to pay back what people did, but I do what I can,” she says of her generous efforts.
Lending Hands, Washington County Hospice, Public Health, and Washington and Wellman Relays for Life, among others, have benefited from all the steps Marg has taken, and over the last three years she has raised at least $1,400. “God has really blessed me through the whole thing,” she says, affirming that this spirit of gratitude is what has created such a winner. This year she has reached her top goal of 10 miles in one walk, adding one mile for every year she has survived cancer starting in 2008. She’d keep adding miles but, at age 76, she knows that 10 miles per event is more than enough.