FARGO — For anyone battling cancer, the final treatments of radiation and chemotherapy are like crossing the finish line, and for one Fargo woman, it has been a race she hasn't run alone, thanks to her Chemo Crew.
The sun was barely up when people started arriving to a parking lot in south Fargo Thursday, May 21. They had all been there before to run with Kim Skarphol.
"It means so much to us," said Kim's friend, Diane Rusness.
At age 65, Kim is a longtime runner that is loved by many and about to become a breast cancer survivor.
"I absolutely needed to be here, to just witness this absolutely amazing lady," said Leslie Brunette, another of Kim's friends.
"(She is) one of the strongest people I know," commented Kim's friend Lisa Markert.
Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer on New Year's Day. It was also the day after she retired from Hornbacher's. Thursday was Kim's last day of chemotherapy at Sanford's Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo.
"(I'm) super excited, and then pull into this," Kim said, referring to the people who showed up to support her. "It's pretty emotional; I'm going to be a mess."
"The one thing she did not want to give up — she gave up a lot of things to go through the treatments — but the one thing she did not want to give up was her running," said Kim's friend Diane Rusness.
Since she started chemotherapy weeks ago, Kim's running friends and family have never missed running with her. During dark, winter mornings in cold and snow, they came anyway and ran beside her through the neighborhoods of south Fargo — running all the way to the Roger Maris Cancer Center.
"It's a little more difficult, but it's the one thing I didn't want chemo and cancer to take from me, and this group would have carried me across Roger Maris," Kim said.
On a beautiful spring morning, some drove from miles away to be a part of Kim's last day of chemo. She was surrounded by supporters wearing pink that moved through the heart of the city in support of their friend.
"It was so hard hearing her diagnosis, but it stopped there. She embraced it and said, 'I am going to kick cancer's ass'," Rusness said.
During their last run, they paused while in downtown Fargo for a moment for Kim to address her supporters.
"My prognosis is fabulous; I have you guys to carry me there," Kim said.
When they reached the cancer center, Kim and her Chemo Crew cheered, "We did it!"