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Janna Janthapaiboonkajon Half Marathon Survivor Story

Janna Janthapaiboonkajon’s battle through stage four cancer did not stop the UIC student’s determination. Despite beating the odds on an emerging disease, she did not settle for less. She wanted to challenge herself mentally and physically by participating in the Chicago Half Marathon this September.

Janna’s fourth semester of college didn’t go as expected, the UIC student noticed that she could barely go upstairs, tried slowing down on her running yet still feeling weaker. In January 2023, doctors found a tumor on her heart.

She said, “I joke with people and say I had such a big heart, that’s my downfall. It was so heavy that I couldn’t lay flat, and I was in a wheelchair for a month or two.”

Regardless of her circumstance she was still hopeful to follow through in her mother’s footsteps by becoming a registered nurse. “I’m a young girl in her twenties thinking about how I will be able to lift patients…my mom even said you don’t have to do bedside nursing maybe you can check in people like a case manager,” the UIC student said.

This did not sound appealing to the 20-year-old and was determined to make this her villain story. She stayed motivated throughout her chemo by looking forward to the little things.

Soon her motivation brought her good news, “I was surprising doctors. Doctors were surprising me. I went from having stage four cancer spread everywhere in me to being able to walk and saying I’m cancer free!” When finishing chemotherapy Jenna began jogging as a treat. Getting back into running was her treat to victory.

“That’s when I decided to rope in a bunch of friends to do the American Cancer Society’s 5k, because it would be my one-year anniversary of when I finished chemo. I sent it out to a couple people, and I got overwhelming support,” she decided to continue the support in the Chicago Half.

By participating in the Chicago Half, she’s proving to herself that anything is possible. Janna mentions, “There’s so much beauty in life and I feel like cancer really makes you appreciate that and you’re going to surprise yourself… that’s something to look forward to keep pushing yourself and see what you’re capable of.”

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