When Jacky Hunt-Broersma was diagnosed with cancer at 26 years old, she thought she had a good idea of what her treatment would look like.
But since she had Ewing sarcoma in her leg, a rare cancer that’s usually seen in children, surgery and chemo wouldn’t be enough. The tumor at the base of her leg had attached to her nerve, making it possible to spread quickly to her lungs. Her only option was amputation.
“Within a month I was booked in for surgery on my leg,” Jacky said. “I didn’t have time to think about what was happening.”
After such a whirlwind of devastating news, it was difficult for her to process and accept her new life.
“I just wanted to carry on with my life and was ignoring what had happened,” she said. “I’d always wear trousers, and I didn’t tell anyone, even at work. It took me quite a few years come to terms with the fact that I was an amputee.”
It was during these lows that Jacky started to consider the idea of running. She always dreaded it as a kid, making sure to hide in the bathroom when her school had track workouts. But with her husband competing in several ultramarathons, she was able to see a side of the sport she hadn’t taken notice of before.
“At races, I’d see these people looking happy, with a sense of accomplishment,” she said. “I thought there must be something in it, so decided to try it. Everyone was telling me perhaps I shouldn’t do it, but because I’m stubborn I thought, ‘Why can’t I do it? Let’s try it and see what happens.'”
What happened was life-changing… in the best way possible! With the help of her running blade, Jacky was able to find strength and joy in discovering just how capable her body still was. Before she knew it she was participating in 5ks, 10ks, and half-marathons.
“Running really changed my life,” she said. “It helped me accept myself as an amputee. It gave me a sense of freedom. I fell in love with the process of pushing my body further just to see what I could do.”
While trying to find new ways to push herself, she found the ultimate challenge: Breaking the record for running marathons over consecutive days. To beat Alyssa Amos Clark’s record of 95 days, Jacky who gave herself the goal of 100.
That plan quickly changed when Kate Jayden became the new record-holder with 101 marathons. Now, Jacky’s goal is 102 days.
“I’m hoping this will inspire others to get out of their comfort zones and try something new and truly see what you are capable of,” she said. “You always got more to give.”
Since starting her journey to 2,675 miles on January 17, 2022, Jacky has developed a system that allows her stump to not get too irritated, something she expected to deal with. What she didn’t expect, however, were the mental hurdles. One of her biggest happened when she randomly collapsed at the 15-mile mark.
“I had a total emotional breakdown,” she said. “I was like, ‘I just can’t do this. What was I thinking?’ The trick for me is just to break it down into little goals. Just get to the next mile. And then the next one.”
Despite these setbacks, Jacky can always rely on her husband and two children for support. Most recently, though, she’s garnered the support of over 40,000 people who are following her journey on social media.
To do good with the attention she’s garnered, Jacky is raising money for Amputee Blade Runners. Because running prosthetics are considered a “luxury” by many insurance companies, they can cost between $10K to $20K. But with this amazing charity, they don’t cost amputees anything.
Jacky also hopes that her story will inspire others, amputees or not, that feel as though they aren’t enough.
“You’re stronger than you think,” Jacky said, “and you’re capable of so much more.”
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