It was New Year’s Day 2009 as Helene Neville was thinking about her mother, who had died of lung cancer in 2002.

“I missed her so much and was restless, grieving and wanting in some way to honor this remarkable woman," Neville said. "On this, her birthday, I knew I had to do something incredibly big in her memory … I’d run across country and raised money for the memorial fund we created in Mom's honor at the school that meant so much to her [the Maryellen Rouse Neifert Memorial Fund for St. Francis de Sales School in Philadelphia] and to honor her memory by helping my profession: nursing.”

But Neville wasn’t content to just run across the country, some 2,500 miles. After all, her mother raised six children after their father disappeared and had worked hard enough to pay to put all six through parochial school. After Neville began her journey, she decided to run the perimeter of the continental United States — almost 10,000 miles — a lofty goal for anyone, but particularly for a woman who was almost 50 years old, had fought cancer three times with three brain surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation.

Her pursuit of that goal brought her into Belfast last month. But there is much more to her story.

After being told to get her affairs in order following a cancer diagnosis in 1998, Neville ran her first marathon, started climbing mountains and entered body-building competitions.

On May 1, 2010, after writing her first book “Nurses in Shape: The Right Dose,” as she puts it, “I took the book and ran with it — 2,520 miles in 93 days — from Ocean Beach, Calif., to Atlantic Beach, Fla."

She ran that southern leg during the hot and humid days of summer without a lot of resources and a 1987 RV “that broke down in every city.” She also had volunteer drivers “who smoked, drank and ate fast food — and I was running with a message of 'get healthy.'”

Upon approaching an Arizona border checkpoint in the RV, she said her driver looked at her and said, “Jesus, take the wheel.” Neville says she replied, “That is one of my favorite songs, too.”

“No,” the driver said. “I’m on probation. You have to drive.”

“So much for leading the charge to a healthy nation,” she said.

In another incident, she was running toward the Louisiana state line when a nurse stopped her vehicle and said her son wanted to run with her for the nine miles remaining. Neville agreed without realizing he was 10 years old. As they ran, she asked why he wanted to run with her. He said, “School starts in another month and I want to be able to say that I ran to the state line with some old lady that was running across the country.”

The boy told Neville he was bullied by classmates but running with her would give him an achievement no one else had. When she was interviewed by the local paper, Neville said she would share her story on the condition the boy’s name appeared on the front page. It did.

She later checked in with the family and found out the boy is now captain of his school’s cross-country team and has run a marathon.

“My efforts cause a ripple effect,” she said, adding, “From a ripple can come a large wave of inspiration.”

After finishing the first leg of the perimeter run, Neville was diagnosed with her fourth cancer, which delayed her run by two years but didn’t end it.

“Hope is the most important thing in life," she said. "Turn hope into action and that action is an investment to help others see the possibilities.”

In 2013, she ran 1,560 miles from Vancouver to Tijuana, Mexico, this time couch surfing rather than with an RV. She carried the ashes of her 56-year-old brother, a guitarist who died unexpectedly, and stopped at every music shop along the way “to see the latest guitars.”

On that trip, while in Washington state, she put on her “Elect Women” T-shirt and went to visit the state capitol. There, she met a child receiving a pen used to sign a piece of legislation to help those with epilepsy, which he had. She said the boy gave her the pen and told her to take it with her, as she still had far to go and he had completed his quest. Neville said she plans to return the pen to the child as soon as she finishes the fourth leg of her journey in early September in Washington state.

Neville began the third leg May 1, 2014, and spent the next 67 days running from Florida to Maine. She was running along Route 1 in Maryland when she saw a sign that said running or biking is not allowed along the bridge into Delaware.

As she was making plans to kayak across the river instead, law enforcement decided to close the two-mile bridge to traffic so she could run across. While she ran, she saw one of the officers in tears and later learned his wife had passed away two months before from brain cancer. The officer was responsible for the arrangements that allowed her to run across the bridge.

In New Jersey, from the publicity about her run on Facebook, she met a half-brother, who she did not know existed and he learned of other half-siblings living in Pennsylvania.

Neville is now completing the fourth and final leg of her run. Most of the time, some local individual is willing to drive her vehicle ahead 35 miles or so and she runs to it. She stops at hospitals, schools, veterans' hospitals, fire and police stations and National Guard headquarters with a goal of helping them “realize their own dreams and to rethink impossible.”

She left St. Stephen’s, New Brunswick, May 1 and plans to end her run Sept. 5 in Ocean Shores, Wash. — some 3,500 miles in 121 days. On that run, she will stop in Iowa to see one of her sons, a dentist, and in North Dakota to visit her granddaughter Emma and her other son, a college basketball coach.

“I run for nurses and causes and I meet people across this nation. I want to inspire people to be the best version of themselves that they can possibly be,” she said, adding her run has really been a grassroots effort.

When she finishes, Neville will be one of only a handful of people to make the perimeter run and the first nurse, cancer survivor and grandmother to do it.

“Cancer gave me an opportunity to find my strength,” she said. “I want everyone to know that he or she is the only one qualified to be himself or herself. This is your time; take it or someone else will.

“Only a nurse could do it,” Neville said, adding, “Nursing is about giving and never giving up.”