“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams.

With this quote in mind, we’d like to introduce Nadia Jas, known in the Paris running community for her inspiring blog, www.nadiarunsparis.com, where she shares her experiences as a passionate runner, as well as news about upcoming fitness events, wellness tips and her reviews of selected products. Nadia’s website and writing style are inviting and connective, so it’s no surprise her readership is growing.  She kindly sat down with us earlier this week and shared her personal story with us. We are touched and honored to share it with you, and to also reveal a very significant and personal aspect of Nadia’s life she hasn’t yet made public.  It’s impossible not to be inspired by this beautiful woman of extraordinary courage and strength of heart.

How She Discovered Running 3 Years Ago. Nadia discovered running in April 2012, somewhat by accident. Her children were 7 and 9 years old at the time and played on a local soccer team; each time she dropped them off for practice, Nadia found herself with time to kill and decided to begin taking walks. Within a month or so she was inspired to try jogging, and she became immediately hooked. Less than a year later, Nadia ran her first marathon (Paris, April 2013) and followed it up with a second one 7 months later (Nice-Cannes, November 2013).

Nadia medal photoShocking News. Just weeks after her second marathon Nadia was diagnosed with breast cancer. To this day, Nadia confides, she hasn’t accepted it. Although the news was of course traumatic, and her subsequent treatment involved 6 months of intensive chemotherapy, Nadia describes herself as being in denial throughout the process. She was determined to stay strong, to fight and win – and above all, to protect her children from being adversely affected by any of it. As a private person, Nadia didn’t want to draw attention to her illness; she preferred to stay focused on something positive and, for her, this was her new love: running.  Nadia decided to launch www.nadiarunsparis.com to keep herself motivated, as well as to motivate others without making her cancer public.

Inspiration From Illness.  After undergoing surgery in January 2014, Nadia launched her blog and began sharing her running journey online with others. She continued training throughout most of her cancer treatment, while leaving this part of her life entirely missing from her site. When she began to lose her hair, she replaced it with a wig and, with her bright smile, she appeared to be an image of perfect health to anyone who didn’t know she was sick.  “Running is what makes me feel most alive”, Nadia confided, and she didn’t want to taint this feeling or the positive connections she was making through her website with her personal struggle.  She admits, “at the time it was too painful and too exhausting to share”.  Now that she has some perspective, Nadia is beginning to explore how she can meaningful connect and inspire others through sharing more about this important element of her journey.

Positive Routine + Running To Heal. To say Nadia is motivated is an understatement.  Even when she felt terribly sick, she forced herself out of bed each morning and made herself look a bit put together — so that her children felt safe and reassured she would get better.  Even if this meant spending the rest of the day in bed, the effort it took to put on a little makeup and get dressed and make breakfast for her kids was worth every moment to her.  Keeping the routine going and staying positive was extremely important and proved very effective in helping her get through this difficult period.

Meanwhile, being the superstar and running addict she is, Nadia managed to run three 10km races even during her chemo treatments.  Her medals were proof to her children that she was in good health and everything was going to be okay; their excitement and pride gave even more her strength to continue.  And several months after finishing chemo, Nadia ran the Florence Marathon in late November 2014 with a close friend.  It was an extremely powerful moment and a tremendous personal victory for Nadia.  She then took a month off to recover and began training for the Paris marathon again, which she completed in April 2015 with her family and close friends in attendance.  This time she trained for the race with the Asics team in Paris, where she met many new wonderful runners and felt a sense of community. Nadia feels blessed and grateful to have had so much support.

Nadia main photoA Last-Minute Dream Come True: NYC Marathon 2015.  While most people know long in advance if they have a race bib to run the NY marathon, Nadia only knew she had a potential opportunity to have a race number – it wasn’t officially approved until just one week before the race, when she received the OK while on vacation with her family in London (her kids were on autumn break).  Several days later she hopped on a plane across the Atlantic, beyond excited to run “her dream marathon”, and definitely one of the best when it comes to positive spirit and organization.  Nadia shared with us that her experience in New York was even better than she expected it to be, and it’s a moment she will always remember (and she plans to do it again, of course!).  And as a fifth grade teacher, Nadia has been sharing her experiences and enthusiasm for running with her students.  It’s contagious! For those who read French (or those patient with google translate), we encourage you to check out Nadia’s blog, where she shares here recent experience in New York for the marathon – among other things.

One thing Nadia has learned through her experience with cancer is that life is meant to be lived, to be appreciated and not to be taken too seriously.  We all know this in theory, yet living this way requires a deeper level of understanding.  Thank you Nadia for your sincerity, for your beautiful heart and all the positivity you bring through your blog and just by being you.

* A Song About Never Giving Up And Fighting For Your Dreams: