December 25, 2014 will always be a day I remember. I can not tell you what my kids got for Christmas that day or where we had Christmas dinner. I can tell you it’s the day I found a lump on my left breast. Friday Feb. 6th, 2015 at 3pm is the day I got the call from my doctor to tell me I had stage 2 breast cancer. I was 34 years old. One week later I set a PR (personal record) in my 5k. Over the next 8 months I went through a double mastectomy with reconstruction, had my port put in, went through chemotherapy and radiation and had my port removed.
I was unable to run for a long time due to the surgery and chemo. I did not have the energy and when I did, small amounts of physical activity, like walk a 5k, I was done for the next day. So I was very excited when I got the all clear to slowly get back to running. It was slow. Over the next 8 months I had lost all the fitness I had previously gained and I had put on a large amount of weight. I set a goal during treatment that I was going to run the 26.2 with Donna marathon to end Breast Cancer in Feb 2017.
It was not going to be an easy thing to do. I still had some surgery in my future to finish my reconstruction and I knew that would take me out of running for a little while. What I did not know was that I was going to have another small surgery just before my marathon training started.
In June of 2016 I ran the Ragnar Trail in Snowmass. It was an amazing event and only had one little fall on a trail, but I was feeling good. On the Tuesday after Ragnar I was having some pain in my back. Nothing to bad, so I just took some pain killers and moved on. Wednesday was not bad, then Thursday hit. I could not get out of bed and just had constant pain. I called the doctor and got an appointment for later that day. When I went in she thought it might just be a pulled muscle from the fall but wanted me to pee into a cup just to make sure.
She came back a few minutes later and told me I had a kidney stone. She set up an appointment for an ultrasound to make sure everything looked good and that I would just pass it naturally. I have learned that I like to hope for the best but plan for the worst. I went into that ultra sound and they found a cyst on my ovary and a spot on my lung. Back to my oncologist to have my lung checked out. It was a very stressful few days until I had the test results. It turned out to be just some scar tissue and nothing to worry about. My ovary was not so lucky.
My cyst was the size of my ovary and they were going to have to take it out. It was a small surgery, in and out in the same day. But it would keep me out of running for a few more weeks. I did what any runner training for a marathon would do when told they can not run. I walked. I had a few long runs I had to do while on “no run” orders so I just walked them.
What this did was let me get in the miles, but even more important it let me know how hard it was going to be. One of the major problems I was having was how much weight I had gained over treatment and the following year. The week before Labor day I walked into Weight Watchers so I could lose 40 lbs before my marathon in February.
Walking into that meeting was the best thing I had done for myself in a long time. Every week I would go to my meeting and get the recharge and support I needed. And I loved hearing all the others members stories of victories. I even got a few of the members out running local 5ks. Seeing what I had gone through and what I was planning to do motivated many of them to just get out and move a little more than they were.
February came around and off to Jacksonville I went to the marathon. I had 2 good friends running the race with me. One trying to BQ (Boston Qualify) and the other her first marathon. The entire weekend was awesome. I was able to get a picture with Jeff Galloway and let him know because of him and his run/walk/run method I was going to be able to do this. The course was amazing and the weather was good, for most of the race. It did get hot near the halfway point but they had plenty of water and sponges for us to keep cool. I was able to reach my goal of a sub 6 hr marathon- 5:52 almost a 20 minute PR. The best part was when I was done I wanted to do another marathon!
Since the marathon I have set a new PR in my 5k, 10k and half marathon. I really enjoy getting out and running. I’ve also started CrossFit and can not wait to see how that helps my running. I have lost 61 lbs and have started working for Weight Watchers. I knew that being diagnosed with breast cancer was not going to keep me from doing the things I wanted to do. What I did not realize is how much better I would be on the other side.
I get told a lot about how strong I am and how I kicked cancer’s butt. And it is always funny to me when people say that. Why? I had no choice in beating cancer. I was going to do it. And I did it by surrounding myself with people who supported me and doing what I always did- keep moving forward.
“You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live. So Live. Live! Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let someone else fight for you.” Stuart Scott