When Sarah Bauldree beat cancer, it was only the beginning of a journey that has taken her somewhere she never expected to be able to go — the New York City Marathon.
Sarah Bauldree, who teaches at South Arkansas Community College, grew up in Magnolia, attending Colombia Christian School until her senior year, when she transferred to West Side Christian School in El Dorado.
“They had a couple things that they offered – volleyball and anatomy and physiology and advanced math,” she said. “They had some things that the other school didn’t have, so I came over here.”
Bauldree said she’s always had an interest in medicine, so she knew she would need those courses. She attended South Arkansas University in Magnolia, where she met her husband, Pate. After that, she attended the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where she became a licensed practical nurse.
“I really wanted to be a nurse advocate, to be on the side of the patient and help them. That’s what really spurred me on,” she said.
The Bauldrees moved to Texas after she graduated, where she worked as a nurse for several years, primarily with newborns and new mothers.
“It’s a hard pick between the nursery and labor and delivery, because I love the babies, but I love being with the patient during their labor and helping them through it,” she said.
It was around this time, 2011, that she started running. Having run track in high school, she said she knew how to run fast, but her tri-athlete husband showed her how to sustain the hobby with long-distance runs.
“It’s kind of a challenge to beat myself and get better,” Bauldree said. “Especially when you’re training for your longer distances, it’s kind of cool when you run further than you’ve ever run before. It’s kind of a high.”
Her journey to marathon running was already on a good trajectory in 2012, a year after she started running long distances. She said she could run three miles at a time, until one week in October when she found herself getting sicker and sicker.
Running into a road block
The week of Oct. 19, 2012, was a tough one for Bauldree.
Sarah Bauldtree and her dog, Duke, cuddle as she undergoes chemotherapy in winter 2012.
She began to experience abdominal pain that got worse as the week progressed. The pain would come and go, she said, so she decided to keep running despite it.
“All of the feelings of ovarian cancer are similar to the feelings [women] get every month,” Bauldree said. “That’s why it’s so hard to catch early, because ‘it’s just girl stuff’ most of the time is what we think.”
The pain became excruciating one day as she was out on a run. At that point, her husband finally convinced her to visit the emergency room. There, doctors decided to perform an exploratory surgery where they discovered a large mass on one of her ovaries, which had ruptured into her stomach.
“My stomach was just getting bigger throughout the week and so they finally opened it and had to clean me out,” Bauldree said.
Her ovary was removed during the exploratory surgery, along with the cancer. However, because of the rupture (which characterizes the cancer Bauldree had, ovarian, as Stage 1C), doctors determined that she should still undergo chemotherapy as a preventative measure.
“It’s kind of a numb feeling when they tell you,” Bauldree said of her cancer diagnosis. “It kind of takes a little while to sink in.”
Bauldree underwent four rounds of chemotherapy over about three months. At the time, she lived in Jacksonville, Texas. Dr. Arielle Lee of the Tyler Hematology/Oncology clinic was her primary caregiver at the time. Lee worked out of Tyler, but would come to Jacksonville a few times a week to help her patients there.
“It was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do,” Bauldree said. “But at least I don’t have cancer.”
She completed her treatment at the East Texas Medical Center in Jacksonville. Upon completion, Bauldree got to ring the bell, a tradition at many hospitals for patients finishing cancer treatments.
“That’s your goal,” she said. “It was kind of a really sweet, happy day. [Nurses] get to see [their patients] and you see them and they’re happy for you. It’s really neat.”
Sarah Bauldtree celebrates finishing her chemotherapy by ringing the bell, a tradition at many hospitals for those finishing cancer treatment, at the East Texas Medical Center in Jacksonville, Texas.
Getting back on track
After she finished her treatment on Jan. 30, 2013, she realized that raising awareness of ovarian cancer could be a way to help other women who may not know the symptoms.
“I was very, very lucky I was caught at Stage 1 and most people are not,” Bauldree said. “It’s kind of a journey for me, after starting to run, and then cancer kind of put a hitch in that, and then afterward I started running again.”
Bauldree said it’s been her goal since she started running long distances to eventually run a marathon. So far, her longest distance run was 13.1 miles, a feat she’s performed twice in the two half marathons she’s run.
The New York City Marathon is a full marathon, 26.2 miles, with over 50,000 participants each year.
Bauldree will be running with a group representing the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC), an ovarian cancer awareness group. Her application told the story of her fight with cancer and why she wanted to run for the NOCC, and she was one of the first 10 representatives selected to run with the group.
“They called me on the way home one day and were like ‘how would you like to run in the New York City Marathon?’ … It’s a really big deal, I’m super excited,” Bauldree said.
Bauldree was also selected this year to run in the Marine Corps Marathon, also known as the “People’s Marathon.” She had to defer that race, as it was only a week before the NYC Marathon. Runners for the Marine Corps Marathon are chosen by a lottery system, so her acceptance into two separate marathons was a surprise for Bauldree.
This will be her first trip to New York. She said she can’t be on her feet too much before the big run, but she does plan to see the city since the marathon crosses through all five boroughs of New York.
“I’m going to be looking at everything as I go. [That] will help take my mind off the running part,” she said.
Her goal is to finish the race within five and a half hours. She is also fundraising for the NOCC, with a goal of $3,000 by the time the marathon comes around. She has currently raised $285 towards that goal.
Sarah Bauldtree runs near her home in July, training for the New York City Marathon.
Now, Bauldree is focused on her family and friends, her job at the South Arkansas Community College, where she imparts her love for patient care on her students, and training for the upcoming marathon. The marathon will take place on Nov. 4.
“At the time I run the race, it’ll be six years since I had cancer, [a] really big milestone,” she said.
To donate to Bauldree’s fundraiser, visit https://events.ovarian.org/nycteamteal/sarahbauldree or @sbauldree on Instagram.
Caitlan Butler can be reached at email@example.com or 870-862-6611.