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Cancer survivor inspires others through Baltimore Running Festival

<i>WBAL</i><br/>Eileen Levitt is a breast cancer survivor who also wears a pacemaker. Levitt is training to run the half marathon in this weekend's Baltimore Running Festival.
Eileen Levitt is a breast cancer survivor who also wears a pacemaker. Levitt is training to run the half marathon in this weekend's Baltimore Running Festival.

By Breana Ross

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    BALTIMORE, Maryland (WBAL) — A breast cancer survivor who also wears a pacemaker is training to run the half marathon in this weekend’s Baltimore Running Festival.

Eileen Levitt has run several races despite her health challenges and has even got her husband to start running, too. Levitt fell in love with running 10 years ago as she found her happy place in fitness.

“I went from barely being able to run 1 mile to running about 8 miles or so,” Levitt said.

Ever since then, she hasn’t let anything keep her from running, not even breast cancer.

“About six years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a lumpectomy and radiation and drug therapy while I was training, wanting to do the Baltimore half that year and thought maybe, maybe not. Who knows?” Levitt said.

Levitt still ran the Baltimore half marathon that year. She kept running even after she noticed a weird issue with her heart. Doctors diagnosed her with an arrhythmia, a condition that causes the heart to skip beats.

“I was told that you need a pacemaker, so about two years ago, I got a pacemaker and I said to the doctor, ‘Can I still run?’ And they said, ‘Sure, of course you can run.’ They kind of looked at me like, ‘That’s the first question you have? Can I still run?’ So, I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to run,'” Levitt said.

Levitt’s husband, Jeff Levitt, decided to run, too, not because he loves running, but because he loves his wife.

“When she had all of these health issues I decided that I wanted to try to keep my eye on her,” Jeff Levitt said. ” I started running just to keep an eye on her, and then I said, ‘You know, this is working. I like the sense of community that the runners provide.'”

The two run with a group called She Runs This Town in Howard County, which is a group for women, but no one minds that Jeff Levitt tags along. The runners just enjoy each other as they train for different races.

“We’ve got women that have a different professions. We have people who we can bounce ideas off of. We can share a life together,” said Susana Montoya, a friend and runner.

Eileen Levitt said she’ll keep going no matter what comes her way.

“Having a heart issue and running long distances don’t seem to go hand-in-hand, but they do. You just have to adjust your expectations,” Eileen Levitt said.

Eileen and Jeff Levitt have run several races, from the Baltimore 10-miler to other events in the running festival in past years. They don’t worry about their times. Their goal is just to have fun and finish.

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