Months after a breast-cancer diagnosis and a double mastectomy, a Monticello mother completes a 102-mile, 33-hour road race

Lindsey Sexton runs the No Business 100. (Photo by Ryan C. Hermens, Lexington Herald-Leader)

When Lindsey Sexton of Monticello started to train for a 102-mile road race in the rugged Cumberland Plateau last year, she had no idea that the race “would come only months after a breast cancer diagnosis led to her having a double mastectomy,” Mark Story writes for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

When Sexton was about to turn 35, her doctor encouraged her to get a mammogram “strictly for precautionary purposes,” Story reports. Abnormalities led to a biopsy and a diagnosis of two types of breast cancer, one of which can spread aggressively.

She called her husband but couldn’t reach him. Calling her brother, “Sexton’s mouth would not form the words, ‘I have breast cancer’,” Story writes.

She recalled, “Nothing came out except this horrible noise: A cry. A scream. A sob. . . . Your world stops.” 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.’”

After conferring with surgeons and her husband, Sexton got a bilateral mastectomy. “My boobs aren’t what make me who I am,” she told Story. “And, if they are causing a problem, let’s just get rid of them.”

Sexton trained until just before the surgery, but after it, “Jeff Sexton broached with his wife the idea of not running in a 102-mile trail race so soon after major medical procedures,” Story writes. “She wasn’t going to hear of that,” Jeff said.
Map adapted from website; click on it to enlarge

Perhaps fittingly, the name of the race is the No Business 100, named for a creek in the nearby Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee, scene of the race.

Sexton had never run more than 40 miles, so it could be argued that she had no business running 102, but Story reports, “The more Sexton trained, the better she felt.”

The race began Oct. 1, with a 33-hour time limit for completion. At 50 miles, Sexton “began to stiffen up,” blisters developed on her feet and it got dark. Her spotter, cousin Brian Jones of Louisville, ran ahead and found a group of runners stopped by a mother bear and two cubs.
After noises failed to dislodge the mother, the cubs scampered up a hill, and the mother climbed a tree, Story reports: “That meant to get past, the runners had to run directly beneath the treed momma bear.” Sexton recalled, “Talk about getting your adrenaline running. But she let us go by.”

With 13 miles left, “My emotions creeped back in,” Sexton said. “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 miles, Kevin Jones, the Wayne County High School athletics director and longtime cross-country coach, “paced his younger sister,” Story reports.

“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. . . . 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.”

Story concludes, “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,” Sexton told Story. “They need to know they can always do hard things. Never give up in life, and never give up on a dream.”
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