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.READ MORE: After WCCO's Eye-Opening Ride Along With Minneapolis Sergeant, Both Sides Of Policing Debate Give Very Different Takes
“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.READ MORE: St. Paul Mayor: City Employees Must Get COVID Vaccine Before End Of 2021
“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.”MORE NEWS: During Resentencing Of Mohamed Noor, Judge Asks: What Changes Have Been Made To Minneapolis Police?
Reilly had to retire from the military, but she’s now going back to school with hopes of becoming a teacher.