Hanging on to Fitness and a Few Strands of Hair Through Breast Cancer Treatment

I am a Medical Oncologist, a wife, a mother of 4, runner of 12 marathons training to run my 13th with a goal to qualify for Boston when the diagnosis of breast cancer caused a significant detour in my well-planned life. When I asked for guidance on how to continue to stay fit while receiving treatment, I received blank stares and found little data. While I never intended to be in this experiment, I find myself now generating my own data about fitness through the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. I am writing this in hopes to help others who find themselves in this same situation.


Gabe Grunwald Day

When I initially looked for guidance on how to continue to run while on treatment, my first instinct was to find others who had gone down this path before me so that I could learn from them. I was pointed to Gabe Grunwald by several when I searched for this role model. I learned that Gabe was a college track star when she was initially diagnosed with a rare cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma. She received the news of her diagnosis while away at a track meet and then proceeded to run a PR at that track meet. She became a professional runner post college and dealt with numerous cancer recurrences that required big surgeries, radiation and then finally chemotherapy. She continued throughout all of this to maintain high running goals including the goal to make the 2020 Olympic team. Although she did not achieve that goal, she continued to celebrate life find significant joy in running. Sadly, Gabe passed away on June 11, 2019, just a few months after I got to know her story. In those few months I felt a deep connection to her and was incredibly inspired by her. I have never cried so hard and felt so sad for someone I have never met.

But today we celebrate Gabe. Today is the first Annual Gabe Grunewald Day and also 6 days after my 4th dose of chemotherapy. My oldest daughter and I celebrated by going for a run downtown after a Flex class at Formula Fitness. I am so grateful to feel so strong and well and will continue to be inspired by Gabe every day.




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