For EHT mom, A.C. Marathon is part of getting back to normal

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Kim Berk with son Nathan, left, and twins Jonathan and Abigail is running again this year in the Atlantic City Marathon. Kim Berk with son Nathan, left, and twins Jonathan and Abigail is running again this year in the Atlantic City Marathon.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Like many of the other thousand or so runners who will participate in the Atlantic City Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 21, township resident Kim Berk, 43, has been getting ready for the race this week.

“This year it is just for fun because I’ve proved to myself that I can do it. I crossed the finish line,” she said this week, just a few days before the marathon she first participated in as a testament to her victory over the cancer that came on at the worst time imaginable.

The mother of a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old twins, Berk was just seven months pregnant with the twins when she found a lump in her breast. She had to undergo chemotherapy while in her last trimester and all was going according to the plan her doctors set out when she went into labor early at 33 weeks.

The babies were delivered, but Berk’s body was traumatized.

“Everybody was paying attention to the babies, but all of the sudden I couldn’t move,” she told The Current in an interview last year. “I could hear everything that was going on, but I couldn’t see and I couldn’t move. Everything was black.”

 She had suffered an amniotic embolism and was put on life support. Her heart was functioning at only 10 percent, she said. But she pulled through and was released from the hospital within a week, with her twins coming home two weeks later.

 The homecoming was short-lived however, as her battle with the breast cancer had to ramp up again. She completed five more rounds of chemotherapy and in 2005 underwent a hysterectomy, double mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

After making it through all of the procedures, Berk said she wanted to do something for herself, and her husband Nathan was supportive as always.

“I always wanted to run a marathon, but I just never got around to doing it,” Berk said in her previous interview. “It was always on my bucket list, and I realized that these things I wanted to do in my life I couldn’t wait for, because I could die tomorrow.

“I was overweight, because I had given birth to the twins, and from the cancer and the chemo,” Berk said. “I just felt like a big lump. I thought, ‘I have to do something,’ and I just saw myself doing it.”

And she did. Last year she crossed the finish line to a huge crowd that had gathered to support her, from her family and friends to other mothers from her son’s karate school.

“Everybody was there. It was overwhelming.”

She said the race last year was more of an emotional challenge than a physical one.

“I needed to do that to feel normal,” she said. “I felt that if I could do that it meant I was OK.”

This year is also special because her cousin from Texas, a veteran who just came home from Iraq, will be running with her. She is also raising money for Gilda’s Club’s Noogieland. Donations can be sent to 700 New Road, Linwood, NJ 08221.


 

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