ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The very fact that 81-year-old Dr. Sandra Hazelip had to schedule time for an interview during her Around the World in 80 Days trip, speaks to the remarkable nature of her life. Her later-in-life adventure is far from the beginning of the incredible exploits that have filled her story so far.

More about Ellie Hamby and Dr. Hazelip’s ‘Around the World in 80 days – at 81 and Still on the Run’ trip:

Sandra Hazelip as a young woman

At the age of 34, Dr. Hazelip was a new mother and only just beginning to find out what exactly she loved to do. A desire to be the best mother possible branched off into a new career when her infant son developed diabetes.

“I was a young mama, I knew nothing about diabetes, and there was no Google back then. But there was a library and so I read everything I could get my hands on about diabetes, and the more I learned about diabetes the more I wanted to learn about medicine in general,” recalled Dr. Hazelip.

That knack for knowledge grew to a head not long after. Dr. Hazelip told KTAB/KRBC she sat down then and there to have a very important conversation with her husband.

“I said, ‘well Donald, you’ve been to college and all of our friends have been to college, and I want to go to college,’ and he said ‘why?’ And I said, ‘Donald, I want to become a doctor,'” Dr. Hazelip detailed, “and he said, ‘well honey, why didn’t you say so?'”

From there, Dr. Hazelip went on to obtain her D.O., later establishing a medical practice in Eastland. After becoming board-certified in geriatric medicine, she made her way to Abilene Regional Hospital to share her skills and a few smiles with the senior population.

With a hint of wonder in her voice, Dr. Hazelip said, “I’ve had patients as old as 106 years of age. The knowledge that they bring, the history that they bring is awesome.”

Not content to limit her scope, yearly medical and ministry missions around the world became a regular part of her life. Dr. Hazelip saw to the physical and spiritual health of people in Zambia, Cambodia, Germany, and Russia – among other destinations. It was in the field that her particular skill set was put to what she said was a divine application.

Dr. Hazelip said she was approached when Cambodia’s Minister of Health asked the director of a ship of life if he knew of any American doctors who could speak to Cambodian doctors about diabetes.

The ability to use the very same knowledge that had ignited her career in an area where medical knowledge had seen a setback, and diabetes treatment was undertaught, was an opportunity she said she’d never forget.

“When I got to give that four-day seminar to Cambodian physicians about diabetes, I thought, ‘this is what God had planned for my life,'” Dr. Hazelip beamed.

Ellie Hamby (left) and Dr. Sandy Hazelip (right) on their 80 day adventure (Arctic Circle)

Confident that, although Dr. Hazelip began her career a bit later than most would deem acceptable, she has always been right where she needed to be.

“It’s never too late to get started on your goal, and it’s never too late to have a new goal,” encouraged Dr. Hazelip.

That’s an adage to which she lives true, taking up the task of traveling the world in 80 days at age 81 with her best friend, Ellie Hamby.