The 36-year-old was offered a choice between giving up the sport that she loved and undergoing complicated vascular surgery. She decided to follow her heart.
“I took a month to decide to go ahead with the surgery. I had to give it serious consideration with regards to the risks, my dreams and goals, as well as what I wanted my future to look like.
“It was an emotional time for me. I still felt I had a lot more in me when it came to professional cycling.”
De Groot said the symptoms would have continued without tailored operative treatment.
“It would most definitely have ended my professional cycling career. But was I ready for life to change if things didn’t go as planned?”
She said that she was forced to look at life differently and found she had courage she never thought she had.
“Saying goodbye to my loved ones not knowing, but also knowing, the risks that lay ahead was emotional and tough.
“But nothing compared to the happiness that I felt when the nurse woke me up in the recovery room by tapping my shoulder. I could feel my feet and I felt good.
“That was a very happy moment that I’ll never forget,” she said, adding that she has not experienced any pain or burning in her leg since.
She underwent surgery on January 17 in the Netherlands and, four months later, the national marathon mountain bike champion lined up at sani2c.
“Samantha Sanders contacted me a week and a bit before the event to ask if I would be keen to race with her under the dormakaba banner.
“Initially I laughed at the question, but, after giving it a second thought, I figured it was worth a shot.”
She added that it was a good opportunity to race with Sanders and that the team supported her despite being out of racing for six months.
“I absolutely loved being back racing again.
“I was a little rusty when it came to my race preparations, but it’s funny because as soon as you get into it, it comes back pretty quickly,” said De Groot, who ended up winning the women’s race with her makeshift teammate.
The 2017 Cape Epic podium finisher said she was working towards being race ready and would systematically enter more events.
“Obviously, finding sponsors is also one of my priorities. It would be great to pick something up from midway through the year, otherwise 2020 for sure.
“With some of the major objectives being missed earlier this year, I hope to be able to qualify again for September’s marathon worlds.
Overcoming the “limitation” proved motivational, as well as the people who stood by her.
“Ultimately, you have to accept things you have no control over and things you cannot change. Appreciate all that you have; life is short.”