A year ago, after recovering from thyroid cancer, I decided I wanted to support others who were fighting cancer. I signed up for the Komen Denver Race for the Cure, supporting breast cancer. I had never run in a race before, and didn’t particularly like running. But I felt very thankful for the fast recovery I had from my own cancer, and figured it was the least I could do.
My doctors told me it could be a year recovery before I’d even start to feel “back to normal” again. My doctors warned me it was a very gradual upswing, and not to expect to feel better for a long time. If you have followed my cancer journey on my blog, or know me in real life, you know that this was not the case for me. As soon as I was on Synthroid, I felt the difference in hours. To date, I still have not had to have one medication adjustment, which is almost unheard of. My surgeon, who warned me of how hard the recovery was, and who has been treating thyroid cancer patients for 17 years, including his own wife, told me he had never seen someone recover as fast, with zero complications, like I have. He told me I was a bit of a medical miracle.
When I wrote my blog post last year, deciding I was going to run in the Race for the Cure, I was thankful I was doing so well. A year later and a year wiser, I am more thankful and grateful than I can express. I have no idea why I recovered so well. I am still in contact with a few people who had thyroid cancer surgeries the same time I did, and are still trying to get their thyroid replacement medication right, so they can start to feel back normal again.
Running in this race last year was very healing for me. I didn’t feel like I was a sick cancer patient, but I felt strong. I felt like I was on the right path for recovery. I had no idea at the time if my recovery was going to “last” or if I would experience the problems and complications my doctors had warned me about. It had been less than two months since I completed radioactive iodine therapy and had started on Synthroid. But I was so optimistic I was able to train for this race and run in it. I had a lot of support and encouragement and I still remember while running it- for the first time, in a long time- I felt alive, well, and healthy.
I was hoping to finish the race in under 40 minutes, and finished in 36:25. The race is self timed, and there are no official results. But crossing that finish line was monumental for me. I wasn’t sick with cancer anymore- I was a cancer survivor. And that day, I became a runner.
I was hooked. I loved it. I loved every second I was running the race. I loved the adrenaline, I loved the strategy, I loved I was smiling through the race, I loved pushing myself, I loved trying to pass the person ahead of me, and then trying to keep someone from passing me. I loved the fact that I could actually do something as physically challenging as running. I loved the fact that I was proving that cancer wasn’t going to define my life. When it was over, I loved the fact that I had accomplished something just weeks ago, had seemed impossible.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I know now what I loved most about that race. I moved from surviving cancer, to healing from cancer. Two very different mind sets. I never looked back at being a cancer survivor- I started focusing on healing from cancer, and being the strongest person I could be- mentally and physically. So the Komen Dennver Race for the Cure means the world to me. It put me on the path to heal from cancer. It helps breast cancer patients who have to fight a much harder fight, for much longer than I ever did.
I am running in the 5K again this year on October 3rd in Denver. I am well trained for this race, and plan on going for my personal (unofficial) fastest 5K time. I can’t think of a better 5K race where I would like to achieve a personal best. But just to be there again- strong, healthy, able to run, and cancer free is a gift. It’s a precious gift not everyone gets, and one that I am aware of every time I run. So I am going to give it my all, and run it the strongest I can. For myself and for all the cancer patients and survivors who can’t.
Last year I entered this race as a cancer survivor and ran. This year I am entering this race as a runner, who happens to be a cancer survivor. This is the spirit of the Komen Race for the Cure. I encourage all my readers to make a donation to the Race for the Cure, or better yet- sign up to walk or run in your local race. You can find a list of races here.
If you would like to make a donation in my name, to help raise money for breast cancer, you can click here. Thank you!