Her Story: Voreata Waddell

Motivating Stories from Local Women

Every woman has a story to tell, and no two stories are alike. Meet the women who have persevered through challenges and tribulations and come out the other side stronger than ever. These unique individuals have seen their fair share of adversity but continue to inspire those around them with the lessons they have learned and their love of life. Read on for four truly motivating stories by the women who experienced them firsthand.


Photography by Emily Long / Photos taken on location at Market South



Do you have a story to share? Click here to tell us how you have experienced adversity and continue to maintain a positive outlook on life.


Voreata Waddell at Market South

Voreata Waddell , NorthShore

From an early age, I knew I wanted to be a marathoner and mountain climber one day. I began running in high school, and following college and graduate school, I continued to foster my love of running and began training with local marathoners.
I signed up for my first marathon in London, but I severed my ACL before the race even started. It took me over five hours, but I finished the marathon. After a long road of physical therapy, I was able to continue racing and have completed seven additional marathons. I was also able to continue backpacking and have conquered summits such as Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus, and Mt. Aconcagua.

Throughout this time, I had been training with Lisa Blevins, and even after I retired and moved further away, I continued to drive to Chattanooga several times a week to train with the people who had supported me throughout my fitness journey.

Had I not continued to train like I was, I would have likely had a very different outcome when I was diagnosed with thymoma last September. My doctor was able to remove the cancer, and he credits the success of the operation to my fitness level.

Tough times didn’t stop there, however. Shortly after my surgery, my husband had his prostate removed due to prostate cancer. My sister, sons, daughters-in-law, and friends were essential to my recovery. They provided care, emotional support, food, flowers, walks, and transportation to appointments while both my husband and I were recovering. 

When I first left the hospital, I was using a walker, had two large scars, and had lost a lobe of my lung. After several months of pulmonary rehab and continued training, I am improving physically. I am getting my life back and have moved back to Chattanooga to be nearer to loved ones and health care.

Last summer, I went hiking overseas with some friends. I’ve kayaked five miles and backpacked for several days at a time. Every day it feels like I can run or walk a little farther. I am inspired by my friends, family, and trainers to never give up. Ego has no place in recovery – but perseverance does. To quote Lisa Blevins, “Strong is a choice.”


Ego has no place in recovery – but perseverance does.”

Get access to the next issue before it hits the stands!