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Lambert passes life's latest challenge

Woodbury Elementary School teacher was diagnosed with breast cancer in September, forcing the avid runner to miss Sunday's OC Marathon. However, she's found other ways to participate.

May 05, 2012|By Joe Haakenson, Special to the Daily Pilot
  • Jennifer Lambert trains with her Woodbury Elementary School students for the Kids Run the OC Marathon.
Jennifer Lambert trains with her Woodbury Elementary… (Courtesy Lisa Hu…)

There was no way to keep Jennifer Lambert away from the OC Marathon this weekend.

Lambert will work at a water station in Sunday's race, which includes a full and half-marathon, passing out water and no doubt encouraging everyone along the way. On Saturday, she and her fellow coach Julie Siff guided their 300 or so students from Irvine's Woodbury Elementary School in the Kids Run the OC 1-mile race.

Lambert loves running, and has run several half-marathons over the years, including the last two at the OC Marathon. But since last year's race, Lambert's challenge became much more than the mental and physical stresses involved in putting feet to the pavement.

Lambert was told by her doctors it wasn't a good idea to run this year's race, considering all she's gone through since September. It was then that Lambert, 37, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she immediately underwent a double mastectomy.

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Initially, she was diagnosed with DCIS, which is a non-invasive cancer. But after the mastectomy, a pathology report indicated that some of the cancer was invasive, getting into some tissue and a lymphatic vessel, and requiring further treatment.

Lambert underwent 12 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by six weeks of radiation, which she finished up just last week. She'll begin hormonal therapy in the next week or so.

Though the chemo did cause Lambert to lose her hair, one would never be able to tell what Lambert, a third-grade teacher at Woodbury, was going through.

"The kids have helped me through it and all the other teachers, and of course my family, my husband (Larry Kramer) has been very supportive.

"My two kids (Allison and Grant) go to the school and my daughter is in my class. So it's been important to keep things looking as normal as they possibly can, even though they both know and have seen a lot. I just want the students and my own kids to know everything's fine. I'm also trying to make a lesson out of it. 'If you're having a bad day, Mrs. Lambert got through a bad day, you can too.' "

Lambert said her doctors have told her that her prognosis is good, "but obviously they're going to watch me, like, forever, doing different MRIs and tests. But as of now they have a positive outlook on it."

It has been the positive outlook on life that keeps Lambert smiling, and her students at Woodbury feed off it. Lambert and Siff have taken the Kids Run the OC program and, well, run with it.

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