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Iron Will: Cancer survivor to compete in triathlon today
Trina Ledford will be competing in the grueling Aflac Iron Girl Triathlon today at Lake Lanier Islands


Listen to Trina Ledford talk about being a cancer survivor

Trina Ledford is an inspiration to her family and friends.

The Hall County native, and mother of three, never lost her faith in God nor her perspective on life after she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Her-2 positive cancer in her left breast in Sept. of 2006. Now cancer-free for more than a year, she’s tackling her next challenge in her first triathlon — the Iron Girl Triathlon today at Lake Lanier Islands.

"Trina’s story should inspire people in all she’s overcome," her longtime friend and race partner Brandy Corbett said. "I’m just so proud of what she’s been able to do, and we’re doing this race to celebrate her health."

Breast cancer was a devastating diagnosis for Ledford, 36, who before developing the disease was a picture of good health as a former basketball standout at Johnson High and North Georgia College. But cancer riddled her body of any strength following her diagnosis, leaving her almost completely dependant on family for her care.

"When Trina had cancer she remained so optimistic," her husband Tony Ledford said. "She always said cancer wasn’t going to beat her."

Today’s race, consisting of a À-mile swim, 18-mile bike and 3-mile run, is a celebration for Ledford and her former college teammate of her perseverance through such a difficult time. Ledford added that the Iron Girl’s significance is amplified knowing that proceeds go toward cancer research.

"All I can think about is how far God has brought me," Ledford said. "I went from not being able to leave my recliner or even lift my hands above my head, to being cancer free."

Fighting cancer for Ledford was a battle that involved the loving support of her husband, children Seth, 8; Buck, 4; and daughter Harly, 3. While undergoing weekly rounds of chemotherapy, she also had the benefit of a loving mother and mother-in-law who picked up the extra duties with the needs of young children to attend to.

"I couldn’t do anything during this time," Ledford said. "I can’t say enough about what my husband did because he became the doctor, baby sitter, dishwasher, mother, father, he did everything ... but most of all he’s my best friend."

Ledford was told she had breast cancer on Sept. 11, 2006. She received the news from her doctor via a cell phone call while she was at son Seth’s football practice at Myers elementary. She immediately called her husband who rushed to the school to meet her on the field where she was in a state of panic.

Ledford’s first diagnosis of a mass in her chest was believed to possibly be a fibrocystic change, according to her friend and gynecologist Dr. Janet Boone. It was recommended to Ledford that she have a mammogram with Dr. Chad Copper at the Longstreet Clinic. The test raised enough concern that Copper ordered a biopsy for Sept. 9.

That biopsy disclosed the aggressive form of the cancer in her left breast.

"When you hear the words cancer it just brings you to your knees," her husband said. "You feel like you’ve had the weight of the world dumped in your lap."

The Myers elementary teacher immediately started a blitz of medical procedures that included a CT scan, and routine chemotherapy schedule.

The routine never got any easier.

She would leave work on Mondays for chemotherapy, take shots for her immune system on Tuesdays and battle non-stop pain before going back to work Thursdays.

She only took a six-week leave of absence during the year-long treatment that included numerous reconstructive surgeries.

Ledford tried to keep a good sense of humor with the young children in her class during this delicate time in her life.

With such pro-active treatments, that caused her to lose her hair, she opted to paint her head like a pumpkin during Halloween and also wear an assortment of wigs to make the children more comfortable.

Her husband also tried to blend in, shaving his own head.

"The kids had a tough time understanding why I didn’t have hair," Ledford said. "They said they were going to pray for me and that’s when it really hits home."

Ledford had a bilateral mastectomy on Jan. 4, 2007 removing both breasts. Jan. 5 she got the best news she’s heard in a long time when her doctor said, "I removed all the cancer."

"I’ll never forget the day we got the news she was cancer free," her husband added. "It was one of the greatest days of my life."

Ledford has been assured by doctors that the outlook for remaining breast cancer free are almost 100 percent. Now she has the time and the strength to chase her new passion: triathlons. In April of 2007, she accompanied Corbett, who is the former Jefferson High girls basketball coach, when she took part in the Tri the Park triathlon in Carrollton.

That sparked an interest to get involved herself.

Ledford, who struggled to walk across the kitchen following surgery, had started to walk around the block just two months later. Her training schedule is now carefully crafted to optimize her strength in the swim, run and bike. Ledford’s most intense workouts come on the weekend with either a run of 45-minutes or a bicycle ride of 90-minutes each day on the weekend.

Ledford doesn’t plan on letting the Iron Girl triathlon be the only race she tackles. She’s already planning on getting registered for other races when time permits.

"I’ve loved every minute training for this race," Ledford said. "I feel like God sent this for me to do this race."

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