MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Marianne Reilly is like any experienced cyclist. Every day she relies on two wheels to get out and go.

But her bike is more than transportation; it’s a reason to keep living.

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“This was my way of getting back on the horse, so to say,” Reilly said.

Three years ago, doctors discovered she had a brain tumor the size of a small grapefruit.

“I thought I was going to die,” Reilly said.

The air force veteran put her life on hold for surgery, chemo and rehabilitation. But overcoming cancer also required a goal to keep moving forward.

“If you’re not reaching for something, you become stagnant and depressed,” she said.

Reilly reached for the inaugural Invictus Games in London. The Olympic-style competition was only open to ill or injured service members from around the world.

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“It was an amazing experience because it was 400 other people who at some point went, ‘Am I going to die or not?'” she said.

Reilly raced in the 10-mile ride, defeating most of the competition. She earned a silver medal.

“It was liberating,” Reilly said. “It felt like I was free, felt like I could do anything now.”

She keeps her silver medal on her wall, but she keeps a different type of trophy on her forearm — two small marks.

“Basically, I get a notch on my forearm for every year I live,” Reilly said.

Her cancer has a 10-year survival rate, but she never shies away from a challenge.

“I’m convinced that I’ll still live to 96,” Reilly said. “If that happens, great! If it doesn’t, I’m just going to live life to the best of my ability.”

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Reilly had to retire from the military, but she’s now going back to school with hopes of becoming a teacher.