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cross country johaIf you are visiting this site, you probably know that Johanna loves running and that she has a brain tumor. What else is there to know?

Johanna is 32, and has been running for the majority of those years. She ran her first 5k race when she was 8 and hasn't stopped running since (yes, she has begun to run again while recovering from her third surgery). Johanna qualified for state all six years that she ran for Wadena Deer Creek (Minnesota) where she was 3rd her freshman year, and runner up in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. She also led the Wolverines to the state championship her senior year.

In the fall of 1997, Johanna began her collegiate career at Luther. She was runner up at the conference cross country meet and was gearing up for regionals (hoping to qualify for nationals). About a week after conference, Johanna started seeing black spots and soon after was diagnosed with a brain tumor. On November 18th, Johanna had brain surgery at Mayo to remove it. She was back at Luther in December and finished up her first semester classes over J-term that year. Things seemed to be looking up, and Johanna was able to run track that spring. The following year, Johanna took a medical hardship from running because her tumor was back and she had to have radiation (5 times a week for 6 weeks).

After radiation, Johanna's scans looked good and her running improved. Over the remainder of her collegiate running career she was a six time conference champion and seven time All American. On the third anniversary of her brain surgery, Johanna won the Division III Cross Country Nationals in Spokane, Washington.

Johanna graduated from Luther in 2001 with a health education major and physical education and biology minors. After a brief stint coaching cross country and track at Eden Prairie High School, Johanna moved out west to Sun Valley, Idaho, to train for the 2004 Olympic Trials (she qualified in '04, and again in '08). From 2005-2008 Johanna attended Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, where she received her masters degree in exercise and sports science. During the 2008-2009 school year, Johanna was a substitute teacher in Spokane, Washington, and coached cross country at University High School, as well as track and field at North Central High.

Unfortunately, Johanna's brain tumor came back and she had to have surgery in July, 2009. She decided that being near her family and doctors was important, so she moved back to Minnesota. While undergoing chemotherapy, Johanna worked full time at Starbucks and volunteered as a track coach at Hamline University.

she's packing her bags for the misty mountainIn 2010, Johanna accepted a position as the Exercise Physiology Lab Coordinator at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Oregon. Her tumor returned for the third time in September 2011, resulting in surgery, visual impairment and a daily chemo regimen. Johanna returned to work in January 2012.

Chemo was hard on Johanna's blood and she had to stop after six months. Before her blood could recover and she could begin a new treatment the tumor came back in July 2012. As one friend said, Johanna's tumor is as tenacious as she is. With the new tumor growth, Johanna began experiencing a number of symptoms that have not allowed her to continue working.

Johanna doesn't like to dwell on bad news. Although things have ben incredibly tough, the light this fall is the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Training for thismarathon with "ralking" (run/walking) has given her hope and a reason to smile. On October 7th Johanna, friends, and family will be completing the Twin Cities Marathon to celebrate life!

 

 

© 2009 Johanna Olson