TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Kami Nedbalek prides herself on finishing the race. Competing in Lubbock two years ago, she couldn't reach the finish line.
"We started to swim and I'd take a few strokes and I couldn't breathe," said Nedbalek. "I did the whole swim that way stopping and stopping. And biking I had a tightness in my chest, like something was really wrong. I didn't know what it was."
After a friend told her to see a doctor, Nedbalek Kami reluctantly agreed. The news wasn't good. Her lungs were filled with 12 cancerous tumors.
"It was such a shock," she said. "I was kind of like I want to do the Iron Man (Triathlon) and I want to see my grandchildren some day. I just thought I never thought about life, just having a few years left. I remember feeling so defeated when I didn't finish that race. That's the first one I hadn't finished. I had friends at home tracking me. It was a long drive home from Lubbock. But now I definitely know it was a blessing."
Nedbalek says the triathlon she couldn't finish saved her life. Despite cancer treatment, asthma and knee surgery, she keeps on competing.
"Why not do something that keeps you healthy and helps your body fight?," she said. "When you're out here training it takes your mind off of all those other things and lets you sort of get away from things."
Two years after finding out she had cancer, Nedbalek's prognosis looks good. The tumors are shrinking and her competitive fire keeps on growing. She'll be in the field for the Rose City Triathlon Saturday morning.
"One of the fun things for me is seeing newcomers complete something they didn't think they can do," said Nedbalek with a smile. "I just love being in the race, even if I'm behind everybody else."