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San Clemente Journal

“They Told Me I’d Never Run Again, So I Ran a Marathon”

Mar 28, 2022 04:38PM ● By Rebecca Parsons

Rebecca and her parents, and biggest supporters, at the finish line.

Rebecca Marathon [4 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
“You will never run again.”   “It’s all in your head.” 
“You will live like this for the rest of your life.” 
“Your condition is chronic.”   “There is no cure.”
“You must accept that you are disabled and always will be.”

An avid runner, surfer, and standup paddler, my life turned on a dime in 2015 when I became suddenly and mysteriously ill. I went from having a blossoming career, an active social life, and being an endurance athlete to being bed ridden within a matter of months. I was twenty-three- years old.

It began slowly at first. Some fatigue. Skipping a run here and there. Feeling emotional. But my symptoms quickly worsened and soon I was unable to work, had extreme fatigue 24/7, couldn’t sleep, struggled with brain fog, and completing daily tasks like showering and eating became increasingly difficult. 

First, I was diagnosed with mononucleosis (aka mono). Then chronic fatigue. Then Lyme disease. Then myalgic encephalomyelitis-Chronic Fatigue (ME/CFS). Next, we found a severe mold infection. My fatty acids were low. I had off the charts levels of toxic heavy metals. My strep antibodies were nearly non-existent. I became a full-time lab rat and spent my days in doctor’s offices, doing lab tests, consulting with a slew of specialists, and undergoing numerous treatments and IV infusions. When I wasn’t in medical facilities, I was usually in bed. 

You name it and I tried it. I did multiple rounds of antibiotics to treat the Lyme, including a 60-day IV regime that required three intravenous doses each day via a PICC line. I did a year of IVIG, an eight-hour at home infusion to support the immune system. I did blood ozone therapy, the PK Protocol, countless IV’s, energy treatments, and I took handfuls of medications and supplements daily. Nothing seemed to help.

As the years passed, I began to lose hope. I saw my friends less and less, as the stimulation was too much for me. When I did see friends, I didn’t know what to talk about—their lives were moving forward while mine grew worse with each passing day. Most days, I spent hours in front of the television, living vicariously through the characters that filled the screen. Occasionally, I’d read but more often than not, it proved to be too mentally taxing.  

As someone who found their joy through being active, I feared that if I were to someday get better, I still wouldn’t be able to return to the things I once loved. At each appointment, I’d ask what the odds were that I’d run again. Some doctors said that I may be able to run a few miles again but all said a marathon was out of the question. Others told me that my condition was a lifelong illness and that I needed to bury the idea that I’d toe a start line ever again. 

Although I’d obviously drawn the short straw when it came to health, I was lucky in a lot of ways. I had a boyfriend who stuck with me throughout my entire illness and would drop anything to be by my side when I needed him. My family was financially stable and able to help pay my growing medical bills. My parents took turns driving me to appointments, cooking for me, and holding me during the days and nights I spent crying. When I wanted to quit, they’d convince me to try a new doctor or another last treatment in hopes that this would be the one that would finally make me well.

Over the years, numerous doctors told me I would never get well. I was beginning to believe them. 

But in 2019, when I was at my wit’s end, we had a breakthrough. We learned that it was possible that the majority of my physical ailments had been successfully treated but that I had suffered a brain injury as a result of the longevity of the illness. My brain believed it was still sick and was in constant fight or flight mode, trying to protect me. If we could find a way to unlock my brain, there was a chance I’d get better.

I flew to Sooke, Canada and attended Annie Hopper’s Dynamic Neural Retraining System, where I learned a lot about neurology and ways to retrain your brain. After returning home from the weeklong program, I saw some progress and decided to try another non-invasive brain treatment: Cereset. Cereset operates under the idea that the brain is capable of healing itself once it recognizes that it’s “stuck.” It sounded hokey but I was willing to try anything at that point. 

In December of 2019, I went to my first Cereset appointment and told the staff that I had high hopes but low expectations. They made me stop taking all of my medications and supplements including sleep aids, and that first, miserable night I didn’t fall asleep until 7 A.M. But after a month, my sleep was as good as it had been on the medication and I saw a glimmer of hope. The progress was slow, but I was beginning to see small improvement.  
Three months after beginning Cereset, I went surfing for two hours, fully expecting to “crash” as I typically did and end up in bed for a week. When I didn’t, I decided it was time to finally give running a go.

I began by running two minutes a day and it was brutal after years of inactivity. Each week, I’d bump my run up by one minute. By the end of the summer, I had reached 35 minutes and decided to train for what had been deemed impossible for me: I was going to run a marathon.

On December 12, 2021 (six years after I became ill), I ran 26.2 miles in a time of 3:31:00, breaking my “healthy” time by 37 minutes. I ran from Rancho Santa Margarita to San Clemente State Beach, where I crossed the finish line surrounded by my family and my friends. Although, I’ve run (and won) countless races, this will forever be my favorite because it was the day I rewrote my own destiny. Good things don’t come easy, but with hard work, determination, and perseverance, anything is possible—I am a testament to that. Never give up.