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DONNA runner honors mom's tough battle with breast cancer by rucking marathons

To honor the weight of the breast cancer battle her mother faced when she was given her diagnoses, Valentina Klein will ruck the 26-mile DONNA marathon.

If you try to walk a mile in someone’s shoes, you might feel some of their pain. That's why Valentina Klein will be walking 26 miles with a rucksack in the DONNA marathon.

“I use weight plates from Go Ruck to stuff my bag with,” Klein said. She says it symbolizes the pain cancer patients go through during treatment.

Klein has always been a runner.

“I’ve run eight or nine marathons,” Klein said.

So when she moved to Florida, she decided to sign up for the DONNA.

"I just saw it as, 'Oh, [yet] another race,'" Klein said. "And you know suddenly, I had this huge connection to it."

That’s because in May of 2017 her mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

“It was horrible, it never ran in our family, my mom always took care of herself so it was kind of a shock out of nowhere,” Klein said.

So for the 2018 DONNA, she ran with purpose and her mom was right there to cheer her on.

“It was also super encouraging for my mom to see other survivors walking and running," Klein said.

After eight rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy and a chemo pill, her mother is now a patient with no sign of disease.

“Seeing her be able to push through that pain was just beautiful to me,” Klein said.

That’s where she got the idea to ruck.

“I wanted to emulate what my mom went through, so by adding the weight it felt like I was carrying some of my mom’s pain,” Klein said.

For Klein, the 20 pounds on her back was a sort of message.

“If I could physically do anything to take away anything my mom went through, I would do it," Klein said. "I would go through any length to take [the pain] away from her."

Klein says she knows she can conquer this because she’s seen what true strength looks like.

“Seeing her power through treatment, even when she felt her weakest or [was] losing her hair," Klein said. "It’s like the celebration of my mom getting through breast cancer.”

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