Siri Lindley is no stranger to impossible odds.
The Longmont-based motivational speaker and horse rescuer decided she wanted to become a triathlete when she was 23 years old, never mind that she didn’t know how to swim.
Lindley was ranked as the No. 1 triathlete in the world eight years later, in 2001 and 2002.
So in November when preoperative tests for hip replacement surgery turned into a nightmarish cancer diagnosis, Lindley did what she does best. She looked for the sunshine.
Two days after blood tests came back with red flags, Lindley took a phone call from an oncologist from UCHealth with the news — she had acute myeloid leukemia, a fast-progressing cancer that affects blood and bone marrow cells.
Lindley remembers the exact moment she looked over to her wife, Rebekah Keat, as the doctor explained her prognosis.
“I looked into my wife’s eyes and she was bawling, but the look I saw in her eyes, I felt her love more than I had ever felt it before,” she said. “I knew I was never going to be alone in this, I knew she was going to be my strength and my everything during this time. In the midst of this life-changing moment, it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life I’ve ever experienced.”
Since then, Lindley has dived head first into the world of cancer treatment, counting big and little miracles along the way.
For one — a cancer trial at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus that seems like it was designed just for her.
And another — an outpouring of nearly $100,000 in donations to a GoFundMe account to cover her medical bills and to hire help to run her and Keat’s horse rescue, Believe Ranch and Rescue , while she is hospitalized.
Keat said she’s not surprised by the surge of support, nor the hundreds of cards or thousands of social media comments Lindley has received.
“She’s always thinking about everyone else first, and I think we’re fortunate to see that she’s touched so many lives,” Keat said. “People are so wanting to give back to her, and for the first time she’s able to receive that.”
Because Lindley is humble by nature and quick to deflect praise, Keat said, the flood of support feels like incontrovertible proof that Lindley is beloved.
Lindley also counts that as one of the gifts of her diagnosis.
“One of the things coming out of this is learning how to receive and accept people’s love for me without being able to offer anything in return,” she said. “It’s been a beautiful lesson for me because just the feeling of realizing the love and support that is in abundance around me is one of the most beautiful gifts I could ever be given.”
Lindley started the clinical trial on Dec. 9 and will undergo a stem cell bone marrow transplant, which comes with a 30-day hospital stay and a requirement to live in close proximity to the hospital for months following the recovery.
When she feels weak or sad or hopeless, Lindley said she tries to remind herself that there is a purpose to her path and that God put her here for a reason.
“I think through this I will acquire things that will allow me to give more and do more and create more in this lifetime, and that’s my hope,” she said.