Jacky Hunt-Broersma's life completely changed when she took up running.

By Renee Cherry
Ultramarathoner Jacky Hunt-Broersma
Credit: Instagram/@ncrunnerjacky

Looking back at old photos can inspire a mix of emotions—nostalgia, pride for how you've grown, incredulity at your fashion choices. For Jacky Hunt-Broersma, an ultramarathoner and amputee, it brings to mind how dramatically different her life was without running. (Related: How Running Helped This Cancer Survivor Embrace Her Amputation)

In 2001, Hunt-Broersma discovered a lump in her leg, which turned out to be Ewing sarcoma that had attached to the nerve of her foot, she revealed in a blog post for Garmin. After weighing her options, she chose to have her leg amputated, and found out afterward that the cancer hadn't spread. (Related: This Is the Grueling Reality of What It's Like to Run an Ultramarathon)

Hunt-Broersma started running for the first time in 2016, thinking it was something she could do with her husband who also runs. Three years later, she's completed ultramarathons and loves looking at old photos as a reminder of how much her life has changed. In a recent Instagram post, Hunt-Broersma explained the feeling she gets when seeing photos of herself pre-operation.

"I love looking back at my old photos before my amputation because it makes me feel proud to see how far I've come," she wrote in her caption. "My life has gone in a total different direction than what I was expecting, but I'm absolutely loving this crazy journey. I never would have thought I would be a ultramarathoner one day. I couldn't even run a mile when I had two legs." (Related: 10 Insane Ultramarathons That Are Worth the Hurt)

Hunt-Broersma says she didn't just physically change in the time between these two photos; she experienced a mental transformation, too.

"The girl in the first photo took life for granted and had a really bad self-image," she tells Shape. "I love the person I am now. I live every day as if it's my last with total gratitude. I survived cancer, I have a badass blade, and my body with all its imperfections can run 50 miles."


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