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.


The Last Minute Ten Mile Race

I am still on a runner’s high from this past weekend. About 2 weeks ago, my good friend Natalie suggested I join her in the Twin Cities on the weekend of Oct. 5 as she was planning to run the Twin Cities 10 Miler and thought it might be fun for me. I think she was trying to cheer me up as this was just a few days after I had that arm situation resulting in the new diagnosis of Parsonage Turner Syndrome (PTS). At the time I was pretty grouchy with the new arm weakness and a general feeling that I could not predict from one day to the next what my body might do. It would be 2 more weeks into radiation. Would I have side effects from that which would make travel uncomfortable? Would I have a new body part decide not to function? But as the weekend in question grew closer and I was still feeling pretty well, I wondered if maybe I could join Natalie in MN for the weekend. So on Oct. 1, three days before planned departure, I bought a plane ticket to fly to Minneapolis. My plan was to hang out with Natalie, do a shake our run Saturday morning with the Another Mother Runner (AMR) gals, and then cheer Natalie and thousands of others who were running the Twin Cities 10 Miler or Marathon on Sunday. But on Saturday morning at the shake out run, I was offered a bib by AMR leadership, and made the decision to actually run those 10 miles instead of watch! The weekend was filled with soul nourishing moments.

Saturday after the lovely shake out run and opportunity to connect with many like minded women we went to the expo where I was honored to meet Justin Grunewald and share with him in person how much his wife has inspired me. We then got to be present for the AMR podcast with Carrie Tollefson and ultimately meet her. What an inspiration she is and so funny!

And then Sunday the run! The weather could not have been better. Natalie was set up to run a fast 10 miles, but she insisted on running with me instead. We took in the beauty of the day, enjoyed the refreshment provided at each water stop, stopped to grab some photos with Dimity from AMR just before getting to the finish. I am so grateful to Natalie for the invitation to do this and her patience for my initial "no" to to become "yes". I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate health by running in the Twin Cities 10 Miler. I will cherish this gift!

#anothermotherrunner #bravelikegabe #runningonhope

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