(Post originally published in 2014 – included in October 2018 as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month)
Just under a year ago, I went for a baseline mammogram. And then another…then an MRI…and then a needle biopsy and…you know where this is going. Not yet 40, I found myself quizzing my neighbors on the best breast cancer doctor. In February of this year I had a lumpectomy and from the end of March through May, radiation. But this is not a story about early screening or why you should wear pink in October. There are lots of amazing women who are breast cancer cure champions; who have been much more profoundly impacted and are better resources for the best doctors, the best support groups, the best wig shops, and the best lotion for when all your skin peels off. There are also women in FiA who are survivors, or daughters of survivors, or sisters of survivors, or have lost wonderful women to breast cancer. Please seek them out – please lift them up. Please run or walk with them (or for them!) during October when there are many opportunities to raise money for this cause.
Rather this is a story about my FiA family. How you all saved my sanity and good spirit.
For me, radiation wasn’t all that bad. I was able to keep my Guinevere hair and the folks at Levine Cancer Institute always managed to squeeze me in so I could make all my work meetings and kids’ soccer games. For me, the worst part of radiation was the fatigue. It didn’t matter how much I slept, I was still tired. So I had a revelation! If I was going to be tired anyway, might as well wake at 4:45 AM and continue to meet my buddies for a workout. Six months later, it still sounds logical to me. My crazy is someone else’s warmup though, right?
So for over two months with fatigue and a glowing boob, I met you all at 5:15 AM. Most of you didn’t know. You may have wondered why I bowed out of the ‘tunnel of love’ (boob on ground = ouch); or you may have wondered why I was at the back of the pack more often than usual. You know what was the best part, there was no judging – only encouragement. FiA meant more to me than I can express. Keeping that one part of my routine intact was critical to my sanity and spirits.
(I’d be remiss if I didn’t also recognize that I am married to an amazing man. He is the best husband in the world for me – I hope you all can say the same about your significant other. Our journey has been one of unconditional support and love, so cancer was no different than any of the other issues we’ve faced together. But this isn’t a story about The Mighty Lance – though maybe one day I’ll work on a WordPress site dedicated to the wonderment that is TML.)
Back to the FiA support and laughter each morning – what a blessing it was this spring and early summer! So when my July San Francisco marathon concluded with a painful ending – a diagnosis of a stress fracture – I was crushed. FiA workouts are awesome and no gal is left behind, but accommodating a broken foot is really asking too much of our Q’s. So I resigned myself to solo workouts, which really is a cruel punishment. I like to be out with you all each morning following, leading, pushing myself and others, and building incredible bonds with each of you.
Now I don’t suggest you Tonya Harding a FiA should you find yourself on IR, but when Whistle came down with a severely strained ankle days after my broken foot diagnosis and weeks prior to the Blue Ridge Relay, we did something that I’m not sure either one of us would have considered two years ago: we lifted each other up. We met four days a week to sweat, laugh and modify-modify-modify. Prior to FiA, neither of us had the network to find another crazy lady to rehab with…at 5:15 in the morning, wearing matching ortho-boots, in a questionable workout facility (now nicknamed the “Dungeon”). Once again, FiA rescued me. (And I think Whistle too.)
I didn’t set out to write this post to impart any words of wisdom – though there are probably some takeaways buried in there:
· Early screening?
· Don’t always assume its plantar fasciitis?
· TML is awesome?
· Get a tetanus shot before working out in the Dungeon?
In truth, I wrote this post as a heartfelt thank you letter to FiA. I’m honored and blessed to call you all dear friends. My mind, body and spirit thank all of you.