Health Team

Raleigh friends battle illness while preparing for City of Oaks Marathon

Posted October 21, 2015 5:08 p.m. EDT
Updated October 22, 2015 4:14 p.m. EDT

— Training for a marathon is tough enough. Two Raleigh women are doing that while battling ALS and breast cancer while sharing an ever-stronger bond.

A love of running brought Andrea Peet and Amy Charney together. A little over a year ago, Peet signed up for a triathlon Charney helped organize.

Aided by a cane, she crossed the finish line, an inspiration to Charney who knew that Peet was battling a debilitating condition.

"Not being quite as able-bodied as the 700 other women who are there, and to put herself there takes what I call an endless amount of courage," Charney said.

After a race in 2013, Peet noticed her body felt different and saw her doctor.

"During and after that race my hamstrings were tight and I noticed I was starting to trip over my toes," she said.

Her diagnosis: ALS, a disease both progressive and fatal with a two- to five-year life expectancy.

As she has lost mobility, Peet has gained in determination.

"I realized that the time would pass whether I lived depressed or whether I lived my life," she said.

As Charney watched her friend's determination and resiliency, she didn't realize she'd soon have to channel that energy for her own battle.

She was preparing to run the Boston Marathon when she found a lump in her breast. It was cancer.

Charney said she didn't set out to prove something. Instead, she applied the lesson learned from Peet to just live her life.

"I was going to run a marathon, and I got the diagnosis, and I didn't want the diagnosis to get in my way," she said.

Together, Peet and Charney are preparing for the City of Oaks Marathon Nov. 1. One is undergoing chemotherapy. The other will use a recumbent tricycle to participate. But their willpower and friendship are unwavering.

"It takes a really strong mental person to do any kind of event, and I've said that about any race that I've done," Charney said.

"The physical is the second part. You just have to get the right mindset."