10 Things That Breast Cancer Taught Me About Running
After defeating breast cancer, our managing editor shares everything she learned along the way and how we can help find a cure.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Just about one year ago I started running again. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2013, I finished up my radiation treatments in October, which ended with a wicked rash—beyond the usual sunburn-type of reaction—so I had to wait for that to clear up before I could lace up and hit the pavement.
Now as I look back on the past year, I’m thankful for being a runner. Here are 10 reasons why…
- I can “jog the breast.” That’s how the surgeon wanted me to think of activities—running jogs the breast, so that was a no-no for a while—and frankly I didn’t want to because of the pain. But once I got to the point where the discomfort was reasonable, I had a new appreciation for that jiggle.
- Sports bras are awesome. I had never paid much attention to them before, but now I know just how necessary they can be.
- The running community is so supportive. Granted I work with a lot of runners, but even outside of the office, the well wishes are heart warming and pain easing.
- Running helps keep my weight in check. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the main things my doctor has told me will reduce my chance of a recurrence.
- Pain happens. Every runner knows your body can hurt any and everywhere, which is actually nice—to have pain somewhere besides my right breast.
- My breast pain is mostly gone. It took almost a year but since I “jog the breast” regularly, it’s been easier to track the healing. When I went for my one-year surgical follow-up this summer, the pain wasn’t gone—but closer to a year out from radiation and it’s exciting to feel so much better.
- I’m mentally tougher. The physical pain is only part of the cancer experience, and running and racing is a mental game that reverberates beyond the spandex.
- Slow works. For the first half of 2014, I worked a lot on building mileage and speed, but then I settled into a groove where I prefer to enjoy my runs for what they are, at whatever pace.
- I like other exercises, too. To be a strong runner, I’ve found I need to cross-train. Since I started doing weight training and core work, I’ve noticed a big difference in how strong I feel. And I have a weakness for my new mountain bike!
- I can support the fight to find a cure. I’m running the Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon to help raise funds for the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation.