Healthy Aging Ambassador Lives by Strength & Grace

Liz Merritt
February 6, 2017
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Tonsa Price-Edwards personifies positivity, grit and determination. This 59-year-old duathlete, cancer survivor, executive, wife, mom, grandmother and Baby Boomer emits energy from the moment she walks into a room.

Price-Edwards is a healthy aging ambassador who commits to living every moment to the fullest. This year, she celebrates 10 years of survival since her breast cancer diagnosis with the confidence of knowing that she can do anything and be anything she puts her mind and body to.

The Journey Begins

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Price-Edwards’ journey as an athlete began 12 years ago.

Price-Edwards’ journey as an athlete began 12 years ago when, as a corporate executive for the Dial Corporation (now Henkel Corporation), she struck up a conversation with a co-worker who was a runner. That conversation evolved to lunchtime runs on a treadmill and then her first 5K race. “It was either drink heavily or do something a little more healthy,” she laughs.

That first 5K opened the door to a sport she pursues with passion. Her marathon credits include six New York Marathons, the Boston Marathon and the Dusseldorf Marathon in Germany. “I really love running. It was fun, and I’m convinced that running helped save my life.”

Price-Edwards’ battle with cancer began at noon on February 13, 2007 when she got the call from her doctor. “When I got the cancer diagnosis, I was in really good shape, and that made my body stronger as I went through treatment.”

Brachytherapy, a lumpectomy, radiation and six rounds of chemotherapy later, Price-Edwards was officially cancer-free. “My life is just blessed,” she says with tears in her eyes.

Every Moment Counts

Now a spokeswoman for Susan G. Komen Arizona and member of the organization’s Board of Directors for the past six years, Price-Edwards is a vocal advocate for women’s health and cherishing every moment that life gives you.

“When you have cancer and you’re sick, people want to take care of you,” she says. “That was very hard for me, but then I figured out quickly that it’s not all bad to accept help.” She credits the support of her husband of 35 years, Del Edwards, and her daughter, Adrienne, for showing her the power of love, family and healing. “I’m almost 60 now, and I’m like, dang! Cancer changed me. It showed me that every moment counts. Every day matters.”

For the Love of Sport

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Price-Edwards is an adventurer, and that led her to discover cycling.

Price-Edwards is an adventurer, and that led her to discover cycling about three years ago. “I was asking myself how long can I run. I had some minor injuries, and a lot of my teammates were transitioning to triathlons.” While swimming wasn’t her favorite sport, the thought of riding a bike to save wear and tear on her knees was certainly appealing.

That left only one option if she wanted to combine running and cycling in a competitive arena – duathlon, which calls for running, cycling and running at either sprint, standard or long distances. Little did she know at the time, but sprint duathlon events would lay the groundwork for Price-Edwards’ debut as a world-class competitor.

In 2013, with a brand-new starter bike, she crossed the finish line of her first duathlon. As luck would have it, the event was Tri for the Cure to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the fight against breast cancer.

That race sealed the deal for Price-Edwards and sparked a duathlon passion that has propelled her to competing in national and world events. “I just got hooked,” she says with a wide grin. She quickly upgraded from her starter bike and now races and trains on a tricked-out Specialized Shiv tri bike that she calls Eos, named after the Greek goddess of dawn, and a Giant road bike nicknamed DeLivia.

Bigger and Better Things

It didn’t take long for Price-Edwards to become a regular on the duathlon scene, and her finish in the 2014 Tri for the Cure race landed her a qualifying time for her age group to compete at the USA Duathlon National Championships held that fall in Tucson, Arizona.

“So I get to nationals and finish in the top eight for my age!” That meant Price-Edwards qualified for the Duathlon World Championships in Spain. “I was over the moon the moment I realized there was a world race I was going to. And all this happened in less than a year.”

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Price-Edwards carries the U.S. flag at the Duathlon World Championships in Spain.

Perhaps one of the most poignant moments of the trip was when Price-Edwards was bestowed the honor of carrying the U.S. flag at the opening ceremonies. “My daughter wrote a letter to the event to tell them about my story. I actually got to be a flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. It was magical.”

The 2015 racing season was fraught with injury and personal loss, with a bike crash that injured her leg and the passing of her father that year. Despite this, she once again qualified for the Duathlon National Championships, but this time did not make the cut for the World Championships, as she collapsed on the course from heat and dehydration and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. She shakes her head in disbelief as she recalls, “That was devastating.”

Not one to take defeat easily, price Edwards dove into her 2016 racing season headlong and – this time – she qualified to compete in the World Championships coming up in Penticton, Canada in August. “I’m so excited. I’m going to race in the World Championships on my 60th birthday! It’s going to be fantastic.

Recipe for Healthy Aging

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Price-Edwards is a member of the Board of Directors for Komen Arizona.

Price-Edwards is a gracious, no-nonsense gal who has learned from experience that self-care is key to healthy aging. “I’m very focused on taking care of myself now, and that’s not at the expense or exclusion of others,” she says. “I know when I’m tired, and I rest.”

She also recommends learning the power of saying ‘no’ and valuing your own time over the fear of missing out on something. “I learned how to say no. Now, I do things that make me happy. I won’t go to happy hour if I need to ride or run for my spirit.

Price-Edwards’ spiritual beliefs also run deep. This granddaughter of an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church minister relies daily on her connection with God and her church family for spiritual support. “When we first moved to Arizona, we found a house and then a church, in that order.”

“I make choices about who I surround myself with,” she continues. “If it’s straight-up negativity, I don’t have time for that. My friends are really positive people. I try to see the joy in life every day.”

Indeed, she does. Price-Edwards’ signature social media hashtag #o7to17Amen4Ten says it all.

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