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.


Last Day of Radiation!

I had my last radiation treatment on Tuesday Oct 21!  All Done Baby! Needless to say, I am pretty happy. I decided that this would be the perfect time to find out what it feels like to break the tape at the finish line, so after my last radiation treatment was done, I ran to that finish line, and then grabbed the bell that my son was holding for me and rang that thing so hard. Man, all of that felt so good!

You know how we are all saying things like: "Wow, time is passing so quickly or I can't believe that summer is over already". Well, this journey through treatment for breast cancer has not been like that for me. Maybe I have discovered the secret to slowing down time, because this adventure did not seem to go quickly. Some of it may be related to the classic saying, time flies when you are having fun, and I guess surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are not really super fun. But I do think that there are some lessons learned here that hopefully I can take forward with me. I believe that this process has forced me to be very present in the moment. Although traditionally I love to set goals and think about the future, this way of thinking often takes one out of the current moment and then that moment is gone. And I suspect that is part of the reason that time passes so quickly. Hopefully, I can find a nice mix of planning for future goals and enjoying the process and therefore the moment I am in as I move past this current journey.

In general, radiation was mostly pretty uneventful until the last week and a half. But even then, the only significant side effect has been red, sore skin. Unless the arm situation, the Parsonage-Turner Syndrome that I mentioned earlier, is related to the radiation. Because Parsonage-Turner syndrome is so rare, it is not well understood what causes it, I can't blame this on radiation for sure, but for what it is worth, I believe that the radiation may have triggered an inflammatory reaction that ultimately caused it. We will never know for sure, and it doesn't really matter, because the good news is that the arm is that it is already getting stronger. I ended up taking prednisone for about 3 weeks and have been doing physical therapy. All of that seems to be helping which I am very happy about. 

And in other news, if you are interested in an update on my hair, it has started growing back everywhere. Interestingly, the hair that I didn't want, seemed to grow back first. That would be the hair under my chin for example. At the very same time that the chin hair showed up, I noticed that my eyebrows were almost all gone. What??!! You guys hung in there throughout 16 weeks of chemotherapy and then decided to give up and fall out 6 weeks after chemo was over?? But the latest good news is that the eyebrows and now eyelashes are making a strong comeback. The hair on top of my head is so soft. I sometimes catch myself petting my head. It is like a newborn baby head. Except it seems to be all grey...

So now a little break from everything related to medical care for a while which is just fine with me. I will be back to see my medical oncologist in mid-November. Oh, I should mention that I had an ECHO last week to make sure that my heart function was still good since one of the chemotherapy drugs (adriamycin) can cause heart damage. The very best news is that there has been no change in my heart function. So it is still normal! I won't lie, one of my biggest fears going into this was that I would end up with irreversible damage to important body parts. The heart is one of those important body parts I was worried about. So far, so good!

25 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


  • facebook

Thanks for submitting!