Strongest Mary: world’s strongest woman in more ways than one

Yes, she is pulling a train! I'm happy if I can open a jar of applesauce!

Yes, she is pulling a train! I'm happy if I can open a jar of applesauce!

A while back, I found the AARP video from Twitter showing cancer survivor Mary Jacobson pulling a plane. I knew I had to include Mary in my book. Here’s the link because you won’t believe it unless you see it:

At 55, Mary holds the world’s Strongest Woman title in her age group. But back in 1995, she was shopping for a coffin and making arrangements for her daughter because doctors told her she had about a 5 percent of surviving.  She was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma, a rare cancer that attacked the glandular walls of her uterus. In fact, they doubted she would make it out of surgery. To make matters worse, her husband, a young Marine, left her after hearing the news.

She barely did survive, remaining in a coma for two years while doctors studied her case and treated her. When she woke up, she discovered she was cancer-freee, but she had gained 152 pounds from her treatments and sedentary state.

Her 11-year-old daughter pushed her to go to the gym every day. With the help and encouragment of her military buddies, she became hooked on weight lifting. She dropped the weight, added muscle, and began to compete around the nation. Today she pulls planes, trains and automobiles for organizations such as St. Jude’s Cancer Research Hospital and the Special Olympics.

Whenever I do a pull, I say, “God, you have my first step; I have the rest.” That’s my mission – to take that first step for those people who can’t. Even if I can’t pull it, I’m pulling it with all my heart.

 It’s not a matter of how strong I am. I’m a normal, everyday woman. I was never athletic growing up. A lot of people look at me and say, “You don’t have muscles all over the place. You don’t look like a weight lifter.” I’ll tell them we’re all strong if you put our mind to it. I’ve heard of women who have lifted a car to save their own child.

 The last words that I heard out of my daughter’s mouth before I went into surgery were, “Mom, I know I might not see you again, but you’re going to be the strongest mom in the world.”

 She gave me the title, the Strongest Mom, before anyone called me the Strongest Woman. She was crying inside, saying goodbye to her mom. I remember those words and think that’s what kept me alive all that time. I’d say to myself, “I am the strongest mom, and I’m going to help other moms in the world. Hopefully something good will come out of this whole thing.”

I can live to the fullest as long as I can keep my hope and love for what I’m doing. I tell other cancer survivors, “Don’t be afraid there’s no tomorrow. You’re here today, and we’re going to live to the fullest. Don’t ever give up hope that you can do it.”


  1. Muscle Building
    Feb 23, 2010

    Wow, very inspirational!

  2. tamilb
    Feb 23, 2010

    I have one more story to share, which I’ll do tomorrow.

  3. sam elliston
    Feb 23, 2010

    An important reminder to live each day to the fullest- and what an incredible story- is she your last one?

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