NOTE: Greg McQuade and CBS 6 News are featuring local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOPEWELL, Va. -- Mary Rogers always looks at life through a glass that is half-full.
"I enjoy being happy and I enjoy smiling," she said. "I like to stay active. I enjoy doing things."
The bubbly woman with an infectious laugh has been working for the U.S. Army for 30 years.
"I work out in Fort Lee. It’s great," she said.
But like Clark Kent walking into a phone booth, Mary has discovered another side when she punches the clock. The Prince George woman, who wears a business suit by day, means business after hours.
Three years ago, in an effort to stay fit, Mary tackled Martial Arts. She hasn’t looked back.
"Yes, it can be physical demanding," she said.
Under the watchful eyes of her trainers Mary doesn’t take her weekly classes lightly. Almost immediately Mary set her goals high.
"As the years went on I was like 'I’m going to get my black-belt,'" she said.
Like most journeys though, obstacles would arise when pushing herself to the physical limit. But while this 62-year-old woman was dealing sore muscles or strained ligaments, doctors would deliver a devastating blow.
"It was very frightening," Mary said. "At the beginning of the year after doing tests it was confirmed that I had breast cancer."
It was an aggressive form of cancer. Mary would undergo treatment immediately.
"For my own physical well-being this has been the worst," she said.
You may think earning a black-belt may be low on Mary’s priority list, especially when dealing with a deadly disease, but her quest actually fueled her motivation. To Mary, chemo and radiation became just another sparring partner.
These days Mary is winning.
The drive was there, but the question lingered would she be strong enough to earn her black-belt? A few days ago Mary and her supporters would find out.
"I lost my hair. I got sick. But it never dawned on me to quit," Mary said. "I got up there and I was like I’m breaking concrete I’m going to do it the first time. It is going to be done. I was like ‘Boom.'"
Mary said her supporters at Martial Arts World in Hopewell have helped her reach her goal.
"Can’t. It is a bad word here," she said. "You want to be positive."
Mary Rogers has proved you can overcome anything with a can do spirit and one powerful hook punch.
"I fought cancer. I fought my way to a black belt. I did it! I’m so elated," she said.
Greg McQuade and CBS 6 News are featuring local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email email@example.com.