Weather Alerts 2 View »

Woman battling incurable cancer walks Hooters Half Marathon

  • Play

Video by

Woman battling incurable cancer walks Hooters Half Marathon

By Sara Belsole. CREATED Mar 2, 2014 - UPDATED: Mar 3, 2014

FORT MYERS, Fla. -  It's a birthday 26-year-old Chelsea Santucci will never forget.

"I am so excited, a little nervous," Santucci said.

Santucci set out to walk 13.1 miles while battling stage four renal cancer. She and her mom ran the Hooters Half Marathon last year, not knowing she had cancer.

Santucci has been fighting ever since her diagnosis with the incurable disease last fall and wasn't going to let it keep her from participating in the marathon again this year.

"Last year we were running for a good cause, but this year it's for the fight of her life and she's in it for the long haul and we are all there with her," mom Patricia Sullivan said.

Dozens of Santucci's closest family and friends flew into town to support her. Some walked each step with her wearing shirts that say #Chelseasarmy.

The group has raised more than $1,400 for cancer research.

"It's transformed into something so much bigger than us and I love that," Santucci said. "It's not about me, it's about raising awareness of the disease, it's an awful disease, its crippling, it takes people's lives but it also brings out so much strength in people."

With the cancer spreading to her lymph nodes and lungs, exercise can get a little tough for the former collegiate boxer, but she's not letting it stop her.

Santucci uses an inhaler and has been taking long walks and doing crossfit training to make sure she crosses the finishing line not just this year, but next year and the year after that.

"If it's hard, it's okay, it's totally worth it, we've been through worse," Santucci said.

Chelsea's Army is still raising money for the American Cancer Society. To donate, click here.