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Water Safari participant used to beating the odds

June 14, 2012 at 1:14 a.m.

Jim and Myla Weber look at the plaques they received for finishing the Texas Water Safari at the final ceremony for the event Wednesday in Seadrift. Myla is a breast cancer survivor and vowed that if she wasn't going to be defeated by cancer, she wouldn't be defeated by 260 miles in a canoe.

SEADRIFT - Myla Weber spent her wedding anniversary in a canoe miles away from her husband and children.

It may not have been conventional, but it was cathartic for the elementary school teacher from Huntsville.

A year ago, Weber was fighting breast cancer. After entering the Texas Water Safari in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2010, she was determined to return to the water and prove that neither cancer, nor the river could conquer her.

Early Wednesday morning, Weber paddled into Seadrift, to the celebration and cheers of her family, just as she promised. Weber's husband, Jim, her team captain Harry Weber as well as her two daughters were all waiting for her at the finish line.

"You are so full of emotion because a lot of things did come," Weber said. "I think Murphy's Law was in my boat. If it could go wrong it went wrong."

Weber's rudder broke, her flashlight didn't work and she was forced to camp in Guadalupe Bay one night. But, still, she rose. Even if she thought about quitting, her team captain, Harry Weber, was never going to let that happen.

The reason Weber did not celebrate her 24th anniversary with her husband Monday was because he was also competing in the race.

This year was the first year all four members of the Weber household competed and completed the 260-mile river race from San Marcos to Seadrift. Her daughters Courtney and Cayla also made the trek.

Her voice slightly cracked when noting seeing her family at the finish line made the mishaps and everything else she endured during the race worthwhile.

"We're all on different sleep schedules right now," Myla said. "My brother-in-law would keep me updated on what my husband and girls were doing. I'm sure we're going to talk for years to come. We're trying to get him in the boat next year."

Harry said that probably will not happen. He admits he's not paddler, but his connection with his brother's wife is deeper than any race. Both were diagnosed with cancer on the same day in October 2010.

"I'm not even sure I can tell you how proud of her I am," said Harry Weber, who prior to this weekend had not been involved with the Texas Water Safari. "She worked very hard and didn't give up. That's a major accomplishment for her. She sure didn't give up."

Harry had a successful surgery for his prostate cancer on March 3, 2011. He has yet to be deemed cancer-free, but he has not had any relapses in the last 15 months.

Myla has been cancer free for months. On Weber's boat, No. 311, she had a pink and blue ribbon signifying the battles she and her team captain have faced just to enter the iconic race.

"I think that's part of what she was trying to do. Every 50 year old male I meet I tell them 'Get your PSA test,'" Harry said of the Prostate-Specific Antigen test. "Because if I had had mine just a little sooner I wouldn't have had to go through all I did."

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