I was faced with a situation that turned my world upside down. In December 2015, I felt a lump in my left breast, had a biopsy performed and the results came back positive for breast cancer.
I remember it like it was yesterday. My husband and I sat in the doctors’ office in disbelief as she delivered the news. I had just run the Dallas Half Marathon two weeks prior to the diagnosis, and I felt great. In fact, I think I may have been in the best physical shape of my life to that point. In that instant my life was completely turned upside down. As you can imagine I had so many questions – what do we do now, can it be treated, do I need chemotherapy, but “am I going to die?” was the foremost thought on my mind.
Everything started moving so fast. Before I knew it I had an Oncologist, a Breast Care Surgeon, and a Plastic Surgeon. There were so many decisions to make– it was a whirlwind experience. I decided to take the aggressive approach, which would include 12 chemo treatments, and two surgeries. I cried constantly as I thought about the long hard road ahead. At the time I didn’t see an end in sight.
After starting chemotherapy I lost my hair almost immediately. Not only was my appearance beginning to change, my habits were changing as well. The chemotherapy drugs changed my taste buds, and everything I ate tasted horrible – as a result I wasn’t eating much. This was the hardest part for me to deal with because I love to eat. I would sit at my dinner table and cry over my food because I was so hungry, yet I wouldn’t eat because the food tasted so bad.
I was downright inconsolable at times; I felt so bad I wanted to die. It is difficult to say that, but I really did – the pain and depression was unbearable.
I was a very active person before the diagnosis. I thoroughly enjoyed running and teaching exercise classes. During this season I thought that part of my life was over. As I got stronger I would hit the trail running, not giving up and getting a little further each time. For the past three years I’ve run the Dallas Half Marathon. My Oncologist informed me that this particular year I would need to sit it out, but my runs were getting stronger and longer. He finally gave in and gave me his blessing! I ran the Half Marathon in December 2016 during my very last month of treatment.
My battle with cancer taught me several lessons and confirmed for me many of the things I strongly believe. I have no doubt my active lifestyle helped my body to fight the disease. Because I believe so strongly in health and fitness I regularly encourage women to become as fit as they can be in preparation for anything life will throw at them. My journey with this disease has also connected me to many women fighting their battles with cancer, and I am honored and humbled to assist them along their journey.
My battle with cancer also confirmed my faith in God. Although my physical body and mind were doubtful, my spirit remained strong. Well, mostly strong. I battled with anxiety, depression, and fear, but by the grace of God I made it through!
There is no doubt I would not have made it this far without my commitment to my health through physical fitness and my faith in God. I give God all the glory for my victory over cancer. I was declared cancer free on June 3, 2016, and I celebrate life to the fullest, and I stand with all women who are forced to fight this insidious disease.