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WCHS Nurse Lindsey Sexton's moving story featured in Herald Leader Newspaper

WCHS Nurse Lindsey Sexton runs 102-mile race
<p ><img alt="Herald Leader" src="/userfiles/164/my%20files/herald%20leader.png?id=96665&width=600" style="width: 600px; height: 101px;" />By Mark Story</p > <p >Published May 9, 2022</p > <p >Reprinted with permission </p > <p >When they started holding the “No Business 100” near her Wayne County home in 2017, Lindsey Sexton found the idea of running in a 100-mile trail race insane. “I just thought, ‘That’s crazy that anybody would run 100 miles,’” Sexton says. Nevertheless, since high school, distance running has been always been Sexton’s “thing.” </p > <p >“I just enjoy it,” she says. “It gives me time to myself, to think things over. I pray a lot when I am running, so it gives me time with the Lord. It just sort of gives me a ‘self check.’” As the years passed, Sexton, 36, found herself drawn to what she had once deemed loco: The idea of testing herself in the “No Business 100,” a 102-mile endurance race run through the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area in Tennessee and Kentucky.</p > <p >“The more I thought about it,” says Sexton, the school nurse at her alma mater, Wayne County High School, “I thought ‘I could do this.’” What Sexton, a married mother of three, would never have imagined as she first began to train for last October’s “No Business 100” is that her first attempt to run 102 miles in a race would come only months after a breast cancer diagnosis led to her having a double mastectomy.</p > <p >Two years ago, a cancer diagnosis was one of the least things Sexton worried about. As her 35th birthday approached, “I was in the best shape of my life — mentally, physically, spiritually, however you want to look at it,” she says. During her yearly check-up in November 2020 with Dr. Kevin J. Crosslin in Somerset, Sexton was encouraged to undergo a mammogram before she turned 35 strictly for precautionary purposes.</p > <p >Even after that first mammogram and a follow-up both showed abnormalities, Sexton says, “I still didn’t suspect anything. I didn’t. I wasn’t worried about anything.” Nevertheless, doctors scheduled her for a biopsy. On a Thursday, Sexton underwent the procedure. The following night, Sexton was home with daughter Jenna, then 10 years old, when she got a phone call. On the other end of the call, a doctor told Sexton the biopsy had detected two different forms of cancer.</p > <p >“Your world stops,” Sexton says. “(The doctor) tried to assure me that we had caught it early and that there were multiple things that could be done. I told her, ‘I’m 35. I have three kids. We’ve go to do whatever it is that is going to get me back to a normal lifestyle as soon as possible.’”</p > <p >Hanging up, Sexton tried to call her husband, Jeff, the chief nursing officer at Wayne County Hospital, at work but couldn’t reach him. So she called her brother, Kevin Jones. When Jones answered, Sexton’s mouth would not form the words, “I have breast cancer.” “Nothing came out except this horrible noise: A cry. A scream. A sob,” Sexton says.</p > <p ><strong >‘QUITTING WAS NOT AN OPTION’</strong ></p > <p >The biopsy results rocked everyone in Sexton’s world. “Lindsey has always been pretty athletic and stayed in shape,” Jeff Sexton says of his wife. “To receive that diagnosis, it was just a gut punch.” Lindsey Sexton’s biopsy revealed both ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and micro-invasive carcinoma. Of the two cancers, the latter was scariest because it can spread aggressively. “Thankfully, the only trace of that particular one was gotten in the biopsy,” Lindsey Sexton says.</p > <p >After conferring with surgeons at Baptist Health Louisville and with Jeff, Lindsey decided the best option for her long-term future was to undergo a bilateral mastectomy. “My boobs aren’t what make me who I am,” Lindsey Sexton says. “And, if they are causing a problem, let’s just get rid of them.” On July 20, Sexton had the double mastectomy in Louisville. Right up until the surgery, Sexton continued training for the “No Business 100.” In the aftermath of the operation and with reconstructive surgery still ahead, Jeff Sexton broached with his wife the idea of not running in a 102-mile trail race so soon after major medical procedures.</p > <p >“I tried to put a little bug in her ear and say, ‘It’s OK if you don’t do this run,’” he says. “But she wasn’t going to hear of that.” Lindsey had informed the doctors at Central Baptist from the start that she still planned to compete in the “No Business 100.” “I told them ‘quitting was not an option,’” Lindsey Sexton says. Three weeks after surgery, Sexton was cleared to walk for exercise. At roughly four weeks, Sexton got the green light to return to running. She started out with training runs of 3 miles. The more Sexton trained, the better she felt.</p > <p >As race day, Oct. 1, drew near, Lindsey Sexton knew she was going to make it to the starting line of the “No Business 100.”</p > <p ><strong >A MOMMA BEAR</strong ></p > <p >In the “No Business 100,” merely finishing the 102-mile race through challenging, rustic terrain is not sufficient. You also have reach the finish line within a 33-hour time limit. When she completed the 10-kilometer loop at Blue Heron Bridge and Tipple, Sexton recognized she had run 40 miles — farther than she had ever before run at one time in her life. “I also realized I still had 60 miles to go,” she says.</p > <p >At the 50-mile point, Sexton began to stiffen up. “But not anything that was holding me back,” she says. Ominously, however, her feet had begun to blister. To run with her as her spotter through the black of night, Sexton chose her cousin, Brian Jones, a Louisville elementary school teacher. Those two ran upon a small group of runners stopped on the trail ahead and screaming a single word. “Bear! Bear!”</p > <p >“It was a momma bear and her cubs — and she was not happy,” Sexton says. What ensued was “a 15-minute standoff, at least,” Brian Jones says. “We couldn’t go to the left of (the bear) because there was kind of a drop off from the trail. We couldn’t go above her because that’s where her cubs were — and we knew the one hard rule: Don’t go toward the cubs.” The small group of runners tried blowing safety whistles, ringing bells and yelling to get the momma bear to leave the trail. Just as it seemed that had failed, something unexpected happened. “All of a sudden, the two cubs go scurrying up the mountain,” Brian Jones says. “Then, after a little bit, the mother bear, moving faster than I’ve ever seen anything move, goes straight up the tree.”</p > <p >That meant to get past, the runners had to run directly beneath the treed momma bear. “Talk about getting your adrenaline running,” Lindsey Sexton says. “But she let us go by.”</p > <p ><strong >A GOAL ACHIEVED</strong ></p > <p >In trying to stay below the 33-hour cutoff time, Sexton built a cushion of almost three hours. She needed it, because, over the race’s final stages, her blistered feet felt like they were on fire. “Every step you take, it’s killing you,” she says. With some 13 miles left to go, “my emotions creeped back in,” Sexton says. “I just started crying, kind of in a reflective mode of what all I had endured with surgeries, cancer diagnoses, that sort of thing.” For the last three excruciating miles, Kevin Jones — the Wayne County High School athletics director and the school’s longtime cross-country coach — paced his younger sister. “She was struggling pretty good, especially with her feet,” Jones says. “We got back out on the trail and she had a big blister burst. Obviously, it was painful. But I think it took a toll on her mentally, too. So I kind of went into hardcore, coaching-encouragement mode, just to try to push her along.” By the time Sexton reached the race’s end point, she saw that a friend had decorated the finish line with pink balloons in recognition of her battle with breast cancer. Members of Sexton’s church, Monticello’s First Christian, and other friends had come to cheer her to the finish. Some 15 minutes beneath the race cutoff time — just under three months since undergoing a double mastectomy — Lindsey Sexton crossed the finish line of the “No Business 100.”</p > <p >“So many people cheering me on that day had supported me on my breast cancer journey,” Sexton says, voice quavering. “As long as I have memory to serve me, that is something I will never forget.”</p > <p >Eight months later, Sexton says her health is good. She is already registered to race in the 2022 “No Business 100” this coming October. On Mother’s Day, Sexton says she hopes her children — daughter Jenna, now 11; and sons Jase, 9 and Jett, 7 — have drawn lessons from their mom’s determination in the face of unexpected adversity. “I would hope my children learned from me that you should never give up,” Lindsey Sexton says. “They need to know they can always do hard things. Never give up in life, and never give up on a dream.”</p > <p ><img alt="Lindsey sexton running" src="/userfiles/164/my%20files/lindsey%20sexton%20running.png?id=96661&width=600" style="width: 600px; height: 402px;" /></p > <p >Lindsey Sexton participating in the "No Business 100" race where she ran 102-miles</p > <p ><img alt="Lindsey Sexton in the woods" src="/userfiles/164/my%20files/lindsey%20sexton%20in%20the%20woods.jfif?id=96662&width=600" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" /></p > <p >Lindsey Sexton running the "No Business 100" trail where she later meets a mother bear and her two cubs</p > <p ><img alt="Lindsey Sexton" src="/userfiles/164/my%20files/lindsey%20sexton.jfif?id=96663&width=600" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" /></p > <p >Lindsey Sexton</p > <p ><img alt="The Sexton family" src="/userfiles/164/my%20files/the%20sexton%20family.jpeg?id=96664&width=600" style="width: 600px; height: 651px;" /></p > <p >Lindsey Sexton and her family (l-r) Jeff Sexton, sons Jett and Jace, and daughter Jenna</p > <p > </p >

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