Welcome to the inaugural post for what I hope can become an inspirational series about running during and/or after cancer – Get Up Running. This should go without saying but if you’re recovering from cancer and want to start running, clear everything with your doctors beforehand.
My first friend to respond to my inquiry was Marjie from Pink and Pearls. This woman has the kindest soul I have ever encountered, and I am so privileged to count her as a friend.
Name: Marjorie Miller
Type of cancer & your treatment:
Breast cancer; surgery (I also had childhood Leukemia at the age of 12, and for that, three years of chemotherapy).
Were you a runner before cancer or any other sports before cancer?
I ran my first 5K literally the same day I found a breast lump. (race that morning, found the lump in the shower that afternoon). I started running a few months before diagnosis, but was never a runner before cancer.
Did you run during treatment? If no, how long after treatment ended did you take up running?
Yes, I tried to run in between surgeries. I had six total surgeries, including a double mastectomy with reconstruction and lat flap. After each surgery when I got the go-ahead from my doctor to resume physical activity, I attempted to run again. It didn’t always happen with the expanders but I tried.
How has running helped you during and/or after treatment, both physically and mentally?
Mentally it helps me feel like I have control over my body again. It helps me feel in control of my health and my life. Breast cancer took my breasts but it can’t take what I do with my body, which is running. When I run it’s just me and my body; I have complete control. I take myself as far as I want. I push myself as much as I can. Nobody else gets a say when I lace up my sneakers. Physically it’s made me stronger and healthier. It gives me so much self confidence. It gives me energy, helps me deal with stress and anxiety, and I feel it keeps me sane 😉
What did your doctor/doctors say about you running?
They applaud it and encourage it.
What has big your biggest challenge running after cancer?
Being comfortable with the implants. My chest still feels tight and I am still regaining muscles under my chest wall. Running sometimes hurts and pulls at my chest.
What would you say to someone ending treatment or just out of treatment who might be intimidated to take up running?
Take it slowly. Take it one day at a time. Start with what YOU feel comfortable doing. Remember: when you run, you run for you and nobody else. My husband said to me before my first 10 miler a few weeks ago: “Just run YOUR race.”
You’re only running for yourself. Not to impress anyone else. Start with walking, slow jogging, taking breaks, whatever you need. You’ll find with time your energy and stamina will grow. Your confidence will grow. It does get easier and the more you do it, the more you love it.