GOODYEAR, AZ - A Valley woman has survived the unthinkable and is determined to live her life one step at a time.
It's hard to keep up with Carol Semkew on her daily walk. She's training for Sunday's P.F. Chang's Rock and Roll Marathon in the Valley. But, she's also on a personal mission. For her, this race isn't about speed.
"It's about completion at this point," she says.
One year ago, on January 23, 2013, Carol says she experienced something she's never felt before.
"I put this hand up and I said hold on, something's happening," she remembers.
Then, she blacks out.
Her husband, Larry Semkew, got the news after his flight landed from Vancouver.
"I turned my cell phone on there were two messages. Mr. Semkew you have to get here as fast as you can, your wife is in critical condition."
Larry says he went numb.
"I get in there and it's like a scene out of Grey's Anatomy. Ten doctors are buzzing around her, she's got every machine hooked up to her," he recalls.
Part of Carol's heart had ruptured.
"They didn't expect her to live. She had less than 10% chance of survival," he says.
Doctors told him she would likely be paralyzed and have severe brain damage.
"This is the woman I love. It wasn't going to happen, she was going to pull through," he says.
Miraculously, she did. Nearly one year later, Carol's preparing for her fourth half marathon, determined not to let her medical problems hold her back.
"It's been hard holding the reins on her," Larry says. "I know she wants to run."
But, doctors won't let her. Carol says they're worried her heart won't be able to handle the strain. So, Carol walks.
"I'm not particularly worried about it because Larry has an app on his phone to track me," she laughs.
"There's an app for that, now!" he jokes.
Joking aside, Larry admits he uses it every time Carol's out walking.
"I'll monitor it and make sure she's still moving. There was one time she stopped and I phoned her and asked if everything was OK. She said, 'Oh, I'm just resting!'" he remembers.
It's a heartfelt concern from her husband of 15 years.
"She's been my world. She's my world," Larry says.
Still, Carol continues to walk. But, for good reason.
"After 10 hours of surgery, he said the only reason she survived is because she's in such good condition," Larry says.
So, Carol laces up her shoes. It's a decision to stay healthy and protect the ones she loves.
"It would have just crushed my mother, and, umm, I'm going to start crying, because my brother died of a heart attack when he was 45," she says.
For Carol, each step becomes a second chance at the life nearly taken away.
Carol was supposed to run in last year's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, but, she decided to stay home because she wasn't feeling well.
It was the very next day she ended up in the hospital.
So, this weekend will be a big milestone for her, proving how far she's come in just a year.