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Superpowers at Age 91? The Strange Case of Mrs. Thompson

Let’s suppose someone like Harriette Thompson asked me to help her get life insurance: a 91-year-old woman who is currently battling skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma). Her last treatment was only a month ago. A year ago she was treated for oral cancer.

I would certainly like to help Mrs. Thompson, but certainly would not be able to. As politely as possible I would explain to her that

  • life insurance companies typically do not issue policies to people over age 90;
  • someone currently receiving cancer treatment is typically not eligible;
  • and someone is typically not eligible with a cancer history of just one year ago.

But what if Mrs. Thompson’s reply was, “But I just set a world record for running the marathon! I will probably outlive your underwriter. “ I would have to admit that she’s probably right. I still could not get her coverage, but I would salute her.

Mrs. Thompson deserves a salute from us all. The Charlotte, North Carolina, resident just set a world record for her age group in the 26.2 mile run. And she is ready for next year

Mrs. Thompson’s secret? Well, she is former concert pianist who calls upon the discipline from that field to train. She takes yoga and stretching classes, and uses an elliptical machine. And she is motived to run for charity.

Pretty inspirational, don’t you think?

Mrs. Thompson challenges us to question our assumptions about what is possible as we age. What are your assumptions?