A Texas woman completed the New York City marathon at age 60 after overcoming challenges caused by three brain aneurysms.
After overcoming serious health challenges, Felicitas Perez from San Antonio crossed off an item on her bucket list earlier this month. The 60-year-old finished the 26.2-mile TCS New York City Marathon on November 5. Although she came in last with a time of 10 hours and 12 minutes, Perez came away from this monumental accomplishment a winner.
Perez earned her race bib in 2019, which is quite an endeavor, but her health took a turn.
“That’s when my first brain rupture happened,” Perez said, according to WFAA.
Despite roughly 20% of brain aneurysm patients having more than one, Perez ended up having a total of three aneurysms between 2019 and 2021.
Brain aneurysms are when a bulge forms in a blood vessel in the brain as the blood flow pushes against a weak spot within the vessel, according to the Mayo Clinic. They are common and typically pose no serious health threats unless they burst. A ruptured aneurysm can be life-threatening. Symptoms of a rupture can include a severe headache, a droopy eyelid, a seizure, confusion, vomiting, and a loss of consciousness.
Perez underwent a craniotomy in 2021. She ended up having a total of three operations, which left her with additional challenges.
“They actually split your head open and go into the brain,” she explained. “[It] did a lot of damage to my nerves in my eye, so I have a paralytic eye on my left side. I do see from my eye, but it is paralyzed, and it does droop.”
She also had to relearn how to walk, which took nine months, and the support of her late sister Irma. After that hurdle, Perez decided to pursue her dream of conquering the New York City marathon. An email from New York Roadrunners confirmed that she still had a bib.
While her neurologist set some limits, he ultimately signed off on her marathon endeavor.
“He said, ‘I normally would not let any of my patients do that, but considering everything that you have survived, I’m going to let you do it,'” Perez recalled.
Despite all the training, Perez was struck by several ailments during the race.
“At mile 16, I just felt very tired,” she said. “Then about mile 17, mile 18, my whole left side just went limp. I was like, ‘Oh my God.'”
Ultimately, she pushed through without medical attention, digging deep not just for herself but for all those facing similar health struggles.
“It was a run that I had dedicated in my heart for all brain aneurysm heroes,” Perez said.
Perez was greeted with plenty of fanfare and support at the finish line.
“Never give up hope on your dream,” Perez said. “If I’m last, what does it matter? Somebody has got to be last, right?”