Race Results

July 2019 View more

When Naperville resident Terri Lhotka was admitted to Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, her body scan “literally looked like a Christmas tree,” there was so much cancer throughout her body. 

Her doctor, Robert Eisner, a hematologist and medical oncologist at the Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center in Warrenville, gave her family his diagnosis of an aggressive form of double expressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and they started leaving the room one by one.

“I had a 40 percent chance to live. It was a lot for them to hear,” says Lhotka, 56. “I told the doctor to go take care of my family. I wasn’t going anywhere. I didn’t have time for cancer.”

Supported by her husband and family, in 2018 she endured six separate rounds of chemotherapy for five days straight in the hospital, and two rounds of preventative chemotherapy. In between hospital stays, she ran.

“I believed I had more to do, so I bundled up, covered my bald head, and went running,” Lhotka says. “I had faith that if I kept moving, I’d be OK.”

Even in the hospital, she didn’t want to stay in bed, instead opting to walk around the halls.

“She motivated herself to get better and stronger,” Eisner says. “The best way to fight cancer fatigue is to exercise. Terri’s cancer-free. She’s in remission.”

Since completing treatment, she has run numerous races, including the Healthy Driven Naperville Half-Marathon and 5K, and the Naperville St. Paddy’s Day 5K.

She attributes her recovery to a sense of humor, faith, determination to keep moving forward, and assistance from her husband and family. Reflecting on those days in the hospital, Lhotka says somehow, she knew she would be OK. 

“It wasn’t the end of my story,” she says.

Photo courtesy  Terri Lhotka