Tampa, FL -- Every year thousands of runners and walkers lace up their shoes to take on Miles for Moffitt. There are five events to choose from at the 8th annual event.
One of this year's participants is a Moffitt Cancer Center nurse whose life was saved thanks to a bone marrow transplant at the same place where she now helps other cancer patients recover.
"I was pregnant with my daughter and I found a lump in my neck," Vikki Pinkos said.
Seven years ago, Vikki was diagnosed with hodgkin lymphoma and had to undergo chemo right away. Her daughter Catherine was delivered via c-section. While her baby was healthy, Vikki was struggling.
"I started feeling sicker after Catherine was born actually. I said a few minutes ago she did better than I did. And then I started to look sick. While I was pregnant with her, I didn't lose my hair or anything like that, but then I really started looking sick and feeling sick after she was born."
Vikki tried to go back to work, but a petscan at a 6 month follow up revealed the lymphoma was back. Her doctor told her she needed a bone marrow transplant. That's when she started getting treatment for the blood cancer at Moffitt Cancer Center with her own stem cells.
"I came into Moffitt on December 27th of 2005 and started chemo for four days, and then, I received my stem cells on January 4th of 2006. That's my 2nd birthday as I call it. The nurse that infused my stem cells was Martin. I still work with him. I work with him today," Vikki said.
When she was finally cancer free, that's when this nurse decided to make a change and work at the cancer center that saved her life.
"When I'm taking care of patients I can totally empathize with what they're going through," Vikki adds, "I understand the anxiety, I understand the emotion."
Not only can Vikki show pictures to her patients of her own cancer battle, she and some other nurses took on Miles for Moffitt as the Critical Care Cruisers. This year, she's walking with her family.
"If it weren't for a place like Moffitt people like me may not have an opportunity to live," Vikki said. "My little girl wouldn't have a mother. My husband wouldn't have a wife."
You can help Moffitt raise money for cancer research by taking part in this year's Miles for Moffitt. 10 News is a proud sponsor of the 8th Annual event.