HEALTH

82-year-old breast cancer survivor preps to run 25th Race for the Cure

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(WJLA) - Once a week, 82-year-old Jackie O'Neil laces up - and heads out for a run.

"I can go out and run three miles - maybe not very fast, but I can go out and run it," she says.

She began running at age 50 - right before she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I got a telephone call...I remember that clearly, it was on a Friday, and by Monday morning I was operated on," she recalls.

Since then, she's made running and staying fit a major focus in her life.

"I like being in good shape physically," she said.

That includes running every single Race for the Cure in D.C. since its debut in 1990. That makes this year's race her 25th time running it.

"It used to be that, as I approached the finish line, they'd say 'Oh, here comes Jackie O'Neil,' and [ask me to] tell them how old I was, and I used to say, 'Thanks a lot, guys!'" she recalls with a laugh.

O'Neil says it's important to her that the race helps increase awareness about breast cancer - and while she's not expecting to run her fastest time this year, she says she's definitely ready for race day.

"It won't bother me that I'm not the first over the line," she says. "If I'm towards the rear, it's okay too."

O'Neil says she's just happy to be running among a group of what she calls "happy breast cancer survivors" like herself.

The 2014 Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure in Washington, D.C. takes place Mother's Day weekend on Saturday, May 10.

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