Running to Restore My Body after Cancer

My goal last October was to fully recover from surgery for FBC and to endure chemo and radiation therapy.

As a result of this goal, my body belonged to surgeons, oncologists, nurses, phlebotomists, insurers and radiation therapists.  In other words, my body belonged to FBC (F-bomb breast cancer).

Now that these treatments are over, by running again, I’m restoring ownership of my body (Silver Lining).

My goal this October is to run a 1/2 Marathon.

On October 16th, a year almost to the day (I was diagnosed on the October 15th, 2010), I will be running a 1/2 Marathon in the Russian River Valley of Northern California (Full disclosure: the Russian River Valley just happens to be the source of our favorite wines. I’m just sayin’.).

I believe in movement – of the body, mind and spirit.  When I hike and run, I feel like I am more connected with the world around me. I am more grounded. The morning after my double mastectomy and reconstruction, I walked the hospital halls, IV poll in tow (even though I felt like I had been an extra in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre).

I wholeheartedly agree with Lance Armstrong, who said that “Exercising may be one of the best things you can do for yourself during and after your cancer treatment.”

Being older, wiser and two months out from my last cancer treatment (to the day), I hold the highest hopes (but no expectations) for my running.  I recognize that I am slower and that my calves, hamstrings and quads do not understand the assault now being inflicted upon them. However, I just want to intently do the work and complete the 1/2 Marathon. After all, Slow and Steady wins the race!  (Who said that?)

Running again isn’t physically easy.  When I started, my muscles had lost all tone and my lungs had lost capacity for air. However, my feet persistently clunked along, despite the aching of my knees and legs.

My 7.5 mile run on Sunday (followed by an 8 mile hike with the HOTY…yes, I am insane) demonstrated that I’ve become more fit. And in becoming more fit, I’ve found a long-lost friend: my body (Silver Lining).

Studies demonstrate that being overweight after cancer treatment increases the risk of recurrence of breast, colon and prostate cancers. NO F-bomb Way!

An added bonus to running is that it is really (really!) good for my post-treatment attitude, because it gets me out of my head…which is a (really!) good thing (Silver Lining)!

Running, hiking and playing tennis are helping me relish what my body can do now. They also remind me of what I was able to withstand during treatment. I am now so much more grateful for all that my body and mind can do, especially when they team up and work together!

After withstanding FBC and all of its treatments, the aches of running don’t hold nearly as much weight.  There is absolutely no comparison to the pain and fatigue that accompany FBC. There were certainly times during Sunday’s run when I wanted to heave along the trail; however, I reminded myself of all of the times that I DID heave during FBC treatment and immediately felt intense gratitude for my current place in life.

It is radically freeing and exhilarating to engage in physical endurance on my own terms rather than being subjected to the hardship of cancer. This sounds like Se-RUN-dipity to me!



The five S’s of sports training are: Stamina, Speed, Strength, Skill and Spirit; but the greatest of these is Spirit.

–Ken Doherty

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