82-year-old cancer survivor to run her 25th Susan G. Komen Globa - KMSP-TV

82-year-old cancer survivor to run her 25th Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure

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WASHINGTON -

If you need a little motivation to exercise, the person you are about to meet should do it. She is in her 80s, a cancer survivor, and has big plans this weekend.

D.C. resident Jackie O'Neil is running in the Race for the Cure. She has gone the distance many times. In fact, she has run in the event since it began.

“When I'd come off over the finish line, they'd say, 'Here she comes -- Mrs. Jacqueline O'Neil -- and then they'd tell how old I was,” she said.

How old is she? 82 years old.

She started running when she turned 50. But around that same time, she got some bad news.

“I got a call from my doctor saying you've got cancer,” O’Neil said.

The mother of three kids had breast cancer. She had a mastectomy.

“I was back at work within two weeks,” said O’Neil. “I think that having a positive thought and going to do what you normally do, then your life just goes on at the same rate as it did before.”

In 1990, she heard about a little-known event to support cancer research called the Race for the Cure. This weekend, she will run her 25th Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure.

“I used to build a reputation at the races,” she said. “Here comes that old lady.”

Over the years, she has run the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. And lots of other races too.

“It's fun,” O’Neil said. “The races are fun.”

O’Neil said she is slowing down a bit. She only does one run a week and one aerobics class, but she is certainly still chugging along.

“I certainly don't run as fast as I used to run,” she said.

She spends time in the yard with her husband, Bill. It’s no surprise that he is a go-getter too. They met skiing and they have been married for 55 years.

“I'll keep him as long as he behaves,” said O’Neil.

She also has a way of getting kids to behave too. In fact, she still works as a substitute teacher in D.C. Public Schools.

We asked her if she likes kids better than adults.

“Probably,” she said smiling. “Maybe I understand them more than a lot of adults.”

O’Neil said staying young holds no secret.

“I am positive, not negative,” she said.

Her advice: live with optimism and put one foot in front of the other.

The deadline to register for this weekend's Race for the Cure is Friday at noon. For more information, go to www.GlobalRacefortheCure.org.

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