KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - "I think about a lot of things when I'm running. It's very relaxing. It's good for my mental state," Kathy Hashimoto said.
As a distance runner, she logged a lot of miles and won a lot of races.
"I've been running marathons for thirty years," she said.
Hashimoto started running at age eleven. She ran competitively through high school and college. She's running in Sunday's Honolulu Marathon.
"It would be nice to be able to do it in twelve-minute miles and be able to run the whole thing, not have to walk at all," she said.
That goal may be modest for many runners but it's mighty considering the road Kathy has traveled.
"It was sometimes difficult to even stand up," she said.
In 2004 she had a kidney transplant because her own kidneys were damaged by a rare disorder.
Then in 2008, cancer was discovered in the transplanted organ.
It spread like a sprint.
"There were multiple spots in my liver, my lungs. It was in my bones. It was in my lymph nodes," she said.
Physicians gave her weeks or maybe a few months to live.
That was just last year.
"I was in hospice and had said goodbye to everybody," she said. "I was resigned that was going to happen, that my life was going to be over."
Kathy prepared a video to be shown at her funeral and audio messages for her daughters.
But her husband, Mark, refused to let her give up.
"No matter what my symptoms were, how I was throwing up, I felt horrible, couldn't eat, I was wasting away, he'd tell me everyday, 'I think you can get better,'" she said.
Then something happened on the way to death's door that she calls a "rapid miracle."
"I started to have more of an appetite. A CAT scan showed a lot of the cancer was gone. And there was no explanation for it," Hashimoto said.
Every CAT scan since has shown more positive signs.
The diseased kidney was removed.
She's off a lot of medications.
She does her own dialysis seven days a week with the help of Fresenius Medical Care Ko'olau.
"There were many times I looked out of my picture window when the hospice bed was set up in the living room. And I would see people going by and I thought, if I could just run down the street," she said.
Life resumed with baby steps. Kathy was able to home school her daughters again. Instead of fearing the future, they're learning to embrace the past.
"We really got closer," she said. "As one of my daughters said, through that experience they're thankful for the cancer. They're glad it's gone. But in a way we're thankful for the lessons that we learned," she said.
From her near death experience, Kathy has gotten back on her journey.
She'll be lost in the masses at Sunday's marathon. It'll be a far cry from the days when she was first to the finish line in many races.
But she's already won the one that counts.