This weekend, runners and walkers of all levels and ages will converge on Flint for the HealthPlus Crim Festival of Races.
Carol Cerny is going to be there with her running shoes on.
She’s doing the 10-mile event to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of her double lung transplant.
Cerny tells us that for the seven years leading to her 2005 transplant, she was on oxygen 24 hours a day.
She maintained an active lifestyle through those seven years, attending physical therapy to prepare her body for the surgery that she calls, “a very traumatic assault on the body.”
Cerny says that even though she was unable to participate, she found inspiration in attending the Crim Races with her husband, Tom, and supporting the participants from the sidelines.
“It was very inspiring to me, and I said to Tom one day, 'We ought to get out there. Once I get the transplant we ought to get out there and do the Crim,'” she says.
When she finally got the call in 2005 that it was time to perform the transplant, she and her husband “just knew that everything was going to work out OK.”
She recalls waking after the surgery with her husband and kids in the room. She was able to breathe, and her hands were pink for the first time in years.
“It was amazing to be able to breathe and not be attached to a machine,” she says. “It was a remarkable feeling, even though I did have to learn how to breathe all over again.”
Cerny is 71 now, and this year’s Crim 10-mile event will be her seventh since the transplant.
When it comes to advice for those struggling through a difficult time, she has this to say:
“You have to maintain a positive attitude. Surround yourself with supportive people; you don’t need negativity when you’re battling a disease. And for me, I had to maintain a very active life so that my physical state was at its optimum. You cannot just cave in and accept things, you really just have to fight and just maintain a positive attitude.”
Cerny also encourages those who are not already a registered organ donor to consider becoming one.
There are more than 3,500 Michigan residents currently waiting for an organ transplant. You can sign up to become a donor at www.giftoflifemichigan.org.
Carol Cerny shares more of her story in our conversation above.
– Ryan Grimes, Stateside