Follow along with the Lucky 13!
Meet the 2019-2020 Lucky 13, a group of thirteen individuals from throughout San Diego’s North County who were selected to participate in the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Half Marathon on Sunday, January 19, 2020.
This special group, all of whom have or are currently overcoming health challenges, are training with fitness experts at the Tri-City Wellness Center in Carlsbad to prepare for the 13.1-mile race.
Get to know our amazing Lucky 13 and follow their journey to yet another finish line.
Maria Zumaya, 62, San Diego
2016 was a difficult year for Maria. In early March, she was diagnosed with breast cancer even though her family had no precedence. She underwent surgery, 18 infusions of chemotherapy and 36 sessions of radiation. After a strenuous treatment process Maria is blessed to have those days behind her. All that remains are the side effects of her chemotherapy.
Maria’s oncologist encouraged her to be active and maintain a healthy lifestyle, so she started a walking program. On Thanksgiving Day 2018, Maria tripped and fell while on her morning walk. Fortunately, no bones were broken but the fall significantly setback her daily walking routine.
Admittance into the Lucky 13 program and having aware, professional coaches has been wonderful for Maria. After undergoing wrist surgery, the coaches at Tri-City Medical Center were able to modify Maria’s weekly cross training exercises to accommodate her wrist restrictions and keep her momentum going strong. Weekly workouts and morning walks are also preparing Maria to complete the Lucky 13 program and finish the 2020 Carlsbad Half Marathon!
Mary Beth Rowe, 60, Vista
Mary Beth was born and raised in California and has always been eager to do her very best in school and professionally. She grew up with three very competitive older brothers and it was only natural for her to follow.
Mary Beth felt confident in her professional roles as she advanced from Accountant to Controller to Director of Operations within several companies. There was one area of her life where she did not feel secure and that was with her weight. Mary Beth knew the health consequences of being overweight, but always thought another weight loss plan or work out regime would allow her to reach her goals. With limited short-term successes her health seemed impossible to manage.
In 2017, Mary Beth was laid off twice in one year through mergers and acquisitions and unfortunately, the same happened for her husband. In addition, her body was not fending off the adverse effects of her weight causing her to become pre-diabetic, develop high blood pressure and a hernia. When she sought out medical advice, she learned about bariatric surgery. Dr. Hanna from the Tri-City Medical Center was the first person in Mary Beth’s life to tell her that obesity is a disease. This realization was the catalyst for change. Mary Beth had bariatric sleeve surgery, lost 85 pounds and is now back at a job she truly enjoys. She is eager to do her best to achieve better health with the Lucky 13 comprehensive program. Losing weight is now just one of many life-changing goals.
Rachelle Nyenhuis, 50, Vista
At 15 years of age Rachelle experienced chest pains, collapsed at school. The next day Rachelle was in surgery having several large tumors removed. Doctors told her she could have health challenges & children would not likely be in her future. It was at this moment she decided she wanted to enjoy as much life that God would allow her, teach children and still have a family! Rachelle has been married to her husband Eric for 28 years, had children, graduated from CSUSM and teaches at The Coastal Academy in Oceanside.
Rachelle was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in her 40’s. She had several surgeries, radiation and treatments and is currently in an experimental cell repressive therapy. Rachelle finds every day a gift! She enjoys reading mysteries, traveling, cooking, meeting new people, trying new food, gardening, going to church, board games, going to the beach and spending time with her bulldog & cat. Rachelle is thankful for her new Lucky 13 family and their special bond as they encourage each other to reach physical and mental health goals that sometimes seem out of reach.
Virgette Mazzola, 42, Carlsbad
At 35 years old, after the loss of a much anticipated pregnancy, Virgette discovered a lump and was soon diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. She learned she was a carrier for the BRCA 1 gene mutation and was advised to undergo a bilateral mastectomy, followed by a preventative hysterectomy.
Virgette’s doctors advised that if she wanted to have children she should save embryos before starting chemotherapy. She is happy to report that after being cancer free for 5 years her doctors gave her the green light to start a family. One embryo made it and Virgette and her husband Bob were blessed with their beautiful, healthy baby girl Gianna in February 2018.
Virgette wants to be an inspiration to her daughter and show her that even though you may not be able to control what happens in life, you can control how you handle it. She is completely thrilled to be part of the Lucky 13 team this year!
Giorgio Tegami, 61, Carlsbad
Giorgio was diagnosed with Hepatitis C over 30 years ago. In 2014, doctors informed him he could be facing liver complications and possibly a transplant within five years. Giorgio immediately began the six month treatment and taking medications. Nine months from the start of treatment, he tested negative for Hepatitis C and is 100% cured.
More challenges came his way. Recently Giorgio faced a two year battle with anemia caused by internal bleeding. After intense research and many tests, he was diagnosed at Tri-City Medical Center with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). A complex surgery successfully removed the deformity from his abdomen.
Giorgio is now ready, determined and motivated to live a fit and healthy lifestyle. He wants to strive each day to keep his positive attitude and a genuine smile. Giorgio is very thankful for the opportunity to be part of the Lucky 13 team.
Kate Battenfeld, Carlsbad
Kate is a musician, writer, educator and business owner who enjoys life with her spouse and their two children (ages 18 and 21). She also happens to have primary bilateral lymphedema in her lower body, but she chooses not to let this rare, life-long condition define who she is or what she is capable of achieving.
Kate was diagnosed with lymphedema when she was 10 years old and has worked diligently throughout her life to maintain the condition since her lymphatic system is compromised.
Over the years, Kate has come to realize that a consistent exercise regimen and a positive mental attitude are key to maintaining her health; thus, she was thrilled to discover the Tri-City Wellness & Fitness Lucky 13 program. Kate considers it a true lifesaver to have been chosen to be a part of the 2019 – 2020 team, and she is excited to prepare herself both mentally and physically to go the distance!
Patricia Collum, 70, Vista
In 2017, Patricia was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of cancer. She also was diagnosed with a genetic mutation which carries high risk for other forms of tumors.
After having a lumpectomy to remove the tumor, Patricia was placed on chemotherapy and radiation. Unfortunately, there is no additional treatment for triple negative cancer at this time. Frequent tests and check-ups are necessary to monitor and seek to reduce cancer risks.
Four years prior to her diagnosis, Patricia was also diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called sarcoidosis. This requires monitoring with a pulmonary specialist as well as anti-inflammatory and respiratory medications. In addition, she was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur, hypertension, and high cholesterol and is using medications and diet to control this condition.
Patricia was referred to Susan Webster at the Tri City Wellness Center for an exercise program from her doctor’s office. Susan’s empathy and guidance directed her to the Medical Integration Strength Training Program where, with the help of excellent trainers, she improved her health and strength. At the encouragement of her trainers, she decided to apply for the Lucky 13 Program.
Patricia never saw herself competing in any type of marathon, but as a mother and grandmother, she hopes that this accomplishment will serve to inspire her family and others to get active, even when challenged with health setbacks. Patricia is grateful to be in the Lucky 13 Program as it inspires her to maximize her fitness levels going forward. Exercise is her health therapy for life!
Silvina Tondini, 52, Carlsbad
Silvina has constantly struggled with her weight and the consequences that come with it. Just before becoming diabetic, she decided her high blood pressure and sedentary life was enough.
After a major surgery in 2018, Silvina started to gain control of her health and overall wellness. Her recovery process has not been easy. With a grateful heart, a positive attitude, and the support of her loving sisters, Silvina started exercising again. After joining Tri-City Wellness and Fitness, she is steadily increasing her strength and stamina.
With the guidance of her Lucky 13 coaches, Silvina has started training to run the entire Carlsbad half-marathon in January 2020. She is determined, consistent and enjoys making friends who inspire her to continue her journey to a balanced life.
John May, 68, Carlsbad
John is a retired school teacher from Carlsbad. He has lived in the area for 35 years with his wife, Mary. Together they have four grown children and now enjoy two young grandchildren. While he has always been fairly active, total ankle replacement surgery in 2013 has limited his participation in many of the activities that he used to enjoy.
Despite multiple surgeries, John has always fought to stay active. He is hoping that the comprehensive Lucky 13 Program of strengthening, stretching, nutrition counseling, gait analysis and aerobic exercise will help him acquire fitness habits that will last his lifetime!
Mary Jane DeMille, 67, Carlsbad
Mary Jane is a nurse by education and currently a Regional Practice Manager in Neurosurgery for UCSD Health Systems. She has always been an avid walker, and Mary Jane enjoyed walking for many reasons: entertainment, problem solving and fitness. In 2006 her daughter Sarah was killed in a car accident while at college. Mary Jane again turned to walking to assuage her grief. She says she walked blindly for hours, particularly in the days and weeks following the loss of her daughter.
When Mary Jane injured her back it was a double whammy. She lost the outlet for her grief along with her hobby. The injury was severe enough to cause the loss of use in her left leg. She was unable to walk without the use of a cane or other assistance. With therapy and support from family, friends and colleagues, she recovered and began walking again with her daughter in the forefront of her mind.
Mary Jane joined the Tri-City Wellness & Fitness Center in December of 2018. While working with Amanda, a personal trainer, she heard about the Lucky 13 Program. Mary Jane new instantly that she wanted to do it, but she knew she had to be honest about her desire to join. She knew she had to talk about Sarah.
Discussing the death of her daughter had always been very difficult and writing the application was no different. In the application process, she explained her injury and wanting to honor Sarah. Running or walking in an event to honor had been a goal for a very long time, but this year, the stars were aligned. She was selected as a participant to train for the Carlsbad Half Marathon in the Lucky 13 Program thirteen years after Sarah’s death. Mary Jane says she is both excited and scared but is confident she will accomplish her goal.
Penelope Russell, 64, Oceanside
At 48, the last thing Penelope expected to happen was a heart attack. On April 21, 2002 her life was forever changed. No one would have guessed she would almost have another one a year later. As president of her own company Marketec, a manufacturer of technical furniture for the entertainment industry, her schedule was demanding and stressful. There just didn’t seem to be time for the self-care she knew she needed. Excuses always arose.
After being in the hospital for five days and a stent in place Penelope returned home. She started rethinking her life and all the events that lead up to the heart attack. Recovery was a slow process, not only physically but mentally too. The physical aspect began with cardiac rehab at the hospital. She was the youngest member. Slowly, she started walking, then exercising. While there were victories in Penelope’s bodily recovery the mental process still continues on.
The biggest challenge was processing the anxiety of a heart attack happening again. Penelope went from feeling fearless to fearful. Through the years, some of the methods that have helped her overcome are humor, singing and trying new things. Penelope is so grateful to have this opportunity to wholly recover by being a member of the Lucky 13!
Millie Duarte, 43, Oceanside
Millie was born in Los Angeles and raised in Oceanside, California. The last couple of years, she experienced multiple issues with her knees, elbows and lower back. As a result, she has become very unhealthy. Growing up Millie felt she was one of the happiest and luckiest kids because she had a loving, crazy family that supported her. Over the last couple of years Millie stopped focusing on her health and happiness and fell into a sedentary lifestyle.
Millie realized she had to make a choice to either further complicate her health concerns or take control of her life. The hardest part was asking herself the tough questions and providing honest answers. One of her most significant accomplishments was having the courage to apply for the Lucky 13 program and embrace the journey of self-examination while making new friends.
Vicki Parker, 64, Oceanside
Vicki Parker has always enjoyed an active lifestyle and is fond of the outdoors. She loves helping children and taught in the Vista Unified School District for 41 years. Starting in 2013, she experienced a series of injuries and challenging health diagnoses. The worst of these was a painful back injury that has taken years to heal.
Three years later, in 2016, Vicki was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, it was caught early and she recovered well. In addition to her own health challenges, Vicki had the emotionally difficult job of helping her beloved parents battling Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. The last several years depleted her sense of deep reserves and her “can do” attitude.
Upon hearing about the Lucky 13 program from her friend Cecilia, former Lucky 13 participant, Vicki regained hope that Lucky 13 may help her regain full health. Needless to say, Vicki was elated to be selected for the program. Every day she thinks about how appropriately named the Lucky 13 program is, as she feels so very fortunate to be a part of this experience.