PLANTATION (CBS Miami) –A mother of twins and South Florida triathlete known for competing in the IRONMAN World Championship was remembered Sunday by her family and friends.
Molli Serrano died last week after battling cancer.
She was 40-years-old.
For 15 years, Serrano trained to compete in the 34th IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and succeeded last fall completing the race in 11 hours, 31 minutes and 38 seconds.
When she crossed the finish line she carried a sign t “I’m beating pancreatic cancer with an Iron will.”
CBS4 interviewed Serrano in July 2012 as she was training for the competition.
It was while she was preparing for a different race in June 2011 that she got the devastating news that she had pancreatic cancer.
“They removed half my stomach, half my pancreas, my gallbladder, a good portion of my intestines, it was a big surgery. The recovery – was tough,” she said in 2012.
Serrano didn’t let the cancer stop her from living.
“I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, no matter how I felt on chemo, radiation and I would get out there on my bike,” she told CB4’s Kim Bokamper.
The mom and competitor fought back by biking, swimming and running.
She said it is what motivated her and helped her through the cancer treatments.
“It saved me. My husband always says that the doctors healed my body, riding my bike, running and swimming, that saved my soul.”
By the time she ran the IRONMAN World Championships race last fall, she was cancer-free and an inspiration for amateur athletes.
“What I would like is for somebody going through this or just diagnosed to look at my story and see what I did and say – you know what – maybe I can do that.”
Her fight, sadly, wasn’t over.
Family members said her cancer returned and a month after turning 40-years-old, Serrano died.
Her brother Fred Licata remembered his sister as an inspiration. “Molli has always been a symbol of strength and hope,” he said, adding, “She really gave a lot of hope to people with cancer, not only pancreatic cancer but all cancer survivors.”
Friend and fellow athlete Bryan Spellberg said Molli inspired him. “She was doing stuff in remission that people couldn’t do with a clean bill of health. An inspiration is almost an understatement because of what she had done and her attitude and her outlook and her fight, just relentless,” he said.
Molli’s mom said her daughter accomplished more in her 40 years than many people do in a lifetime. In addition to being an athlete, she was a dedicated wife and mother. She had 9-year-old twins; a girl, Isabella, and a boy, Nicholas.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to the twins’ college fund.
Include the child’s account number with the donation to the address:
Florida 529 Savings Plan
PO BOX 31483
Tampa, Florida 33631-3483
Nicholas A. Serrano – Account 5337763
Isabella R. Serrano – Account 5337755