BREAKING NEWS Twice as many CA drivers cited for traveling at more than 100 mph this year Full Story
BREAKING NEWS North State Covid-19 updates: 91 new cases in Sutter County Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

A cancer survivor thought she'd never run again after losing her leg. Now, she's training for a half-Ironman

Alma Faz was just 19 when her right leg was amputated.It was "the lowest point in my life: 85 pounds,...

Posted: Nov 16, 2018 12:40 PM
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 12:40 PM

Alma Faz was just 19 when her right leg was amputated.

It was "the lowest point in my life: 85 pounds, cast on one leg, surgeries and chemotherapy," Faz said.

Cancer

Diseases and disorders

Health and medical

Endurance sports

Marathons

Running and jogging

Sports and recreation

That was two decades ago, just months after the Houston native was diagnosed with bone and ovarian cancer.

"I was athletic. I was a cheerleader when I was in high school, so I liked to exercise," she said. "I wanted to go to college. I wanted to build a career. You know, just do want normal people do," Faz said.

Instead, Faz dropped out after just six weeks of college to undergo chemo and multiple surgeries.

"The reality became: Am I going to survive?" she said.

Inspired to help save lives

Six months after her amputation in 1998, Faz took her first steps. Inspired by the dedication of the staff at MD Anderson Cancer Center to saving her life, she decided to go back to school to study computed tomography, a medical imaging technology.

"I'm in a wheelchair, post-amputation, having a CT scan, and it came to me that this is what I want to do, and this is where I want to do it," said Faz, now 39. "Everybody was very caring and had a common goal for me. And so you can't put a price on that."

Faz has now worked at MD Anderson for 15 years and manages a clinic that sees more than 100 patients a day.

"There were so many people working to save my life," she said, "so I thought, 'one day, I can work to save someone else's life.' "

'I really wanted to run again'

After losing her leg, Faz was determined to get active again. But running was not an option.

"I did try, but the prosthetics were not as advanced." she said. "So, when I tried to run on that foot, there was no natural movement to it. It was more just for walking."

In 2009, she started an adolescent and young adult support group at the cancer center, a resource she didn't have at the time of her diagnoses -- and realized she could do more.

"Through them, I went to kayaking camps, ski trips, and then there was the 'aha' moment," she said. "I really wanted to run again."

Faz's leg was stable enough by the next year for doctors to build her a running prosthetic. She started an eighth of a mile at a time.

"Before I knew it, it was the whole park," she recalled. "Then, it was a 5K, then 10K."

Faz has completed 21 half-marathons and a 26.2-mile marathon. And now, she's training for a half-Ironman triathlon, with a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.

"I have plenty of scars, and I have a missing leg that reminds me every day of the sacrifices," she said. "But that pushes me every day to give more, because I had the chance to survive."

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1160940

Reported Deaths: 18968
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles3783237543
San Bernardino884531129
Riverside836851434
San Diego75305988
Orange731521559
Kern39721447
Fresno37021477
Sacramento35143557
Santa Clara32049470
Alameda28225502
San Joaquin25318504
Contra Costa23146258
Stanislaus21145422
Tulare20352305
Ventura18637175
Imperial15725356
San Francisco14874160
Monterey14354116
San Mateo13707170
Sonoma11712157
Merced11460179
Santa Barbara11166135
Kings1035987
Solano1003681
Marin7621129
Placer622468
Madera604785
San Luis Obispo588535
Shasta460147
Yolo447674
Santa Cruz413228
Butte381259
Sutter305715
Napa290417
El Dorado20914
Yuba194810
San Benito178416
Lassen17153
Tehama156525
Mendocino146822
Nevada11639
Glenn8837
Lake87719
Tuolumne8738
Humboldt8199
Colusa6826
Siskiyou5822
Mono5093
Amador47016
Calaveras46622
Del Norte2981
Inyo28316
Plumas1920
Trinity1360
Mariposa1242
Modoc1190
Alpine470
Sierra190
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 63°
Oroville
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 62°
Paradise
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 63°
Chester
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 38°
Red Bluff
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 63°
Willows
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 63°
Your Thanksgiving will be sunny & breezy with mild temperatures.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events