Buddy Check 25: Peoria couple not running from cancer

By WEEK Producer

August 25, 2013 Updated Aug 26, 2013 at 10:08 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The couple you are about to meet is conquering cancer one step at a time and helping other survivors in the process.

Shelley and Tom Kelch first hit the track together about 10 years ago when their son challenged them to get healthy.

"He wanted us to start running so that we'd stay healthy enough to pay for college," said Tom Kelch.

The couple grew to love the ritual and even joined a running club.

Then, two years ago, the day before running in the Steamboat Classic, Shelley received a devastating diagnosis.

"It just knocked me, knocked me hard," said Shelley Kelch.

She had breast cancer.

"When you're told you have cancer, your life stops for a moment," said Shelley.

However, the next morning they laced up their running shoes and started on a new journey.

"I remember telling her this is the last time we'll see that, the finish line, and she said, no, I'm gonna run through this," said Tom.

That's exactly what Shelly has done. The wife and mother of four underwent a mastectomy, reconstruction and treatment for two forms of breast cancer.

Her running regimen now includes the Race for the Cure and this fall she and her husband will run in the first-ever Susan G. Komen Memorial Promise Run & Relay. It's a half marathon. They will run it as a two person relay.

"I've never ran even half of a half, never ran that far before at one time. So, it's a goal," said Shelley.

When they make their relay exchange on October 20, they will do so not far from this Peoria, Illinois track right across from Parkview Cemetery where Suzy Komen is laid to rest.

They will run in memory of people like Suzy and in celebration of all of the Shelley's who have conquered breast cancer.

Research now shows that maintaining a healthy lifestyle like running and eating right can cut your risk of breast cancer recurrence in half.

You can join Shelley at the Promise Run & Relay on October 20.

Participants can run as individuals, 2-person and 4-person relay or as progressive runners; that means running 12 miles prior to race day and 1.1 miles the day of the actual event.

To sign up and learn more go to komenmemorial.org or click on the link on our website.

That's where you'll also find more information about Buddy Check 25.
It is the 25th of the month. So, don't forget to do your breast self-exam and remind a buddy to do the same.