Erica and I have teamed up for an amazing fundraiser. Compete for a Cure’s mission is to provide financial support towards wellness and fitness programs both during and after breast cancer so that women can be reintegrated back into a community that is dedicated to living a full life. For every $10 donated we will have to row 100m. The more you donate the more we have to row.
Erica asked me what I thought about the fundraiser. I’ll be honest, the first thing I felt when I saw the pink heart was nausea. I am a breast cancer survivor. I’ve been in remission since 2015. And I still hate everything about breast cancer awareness with every fiber of my being. October is a 31-day pink-ribboned reminder of one of the most terrifying times of my life. I avoid breast cancer fundraisers and events like the plague. I won’t even wear pink in October – it makes my skin crawl.
But I read about the challenge anyway, and as soon as I read the description, I knew this was something I wanted to do. You know why? One word: after.
Travel back in time with me.
It’s 2014, I’m 34 years old. I have two small children, one going into third grade, and one going into kindergarten. And an oncological surgeon has just dropped the C-word into my lap. And not early stage breast cancer. No, I was in Stage 3C with an active lifestyle, no other health concerns, and no family history.
When treatment started, I asked my doctors if physical activity would still be okay. I was an active runner at the time and movement was part of my daily routine. My doctors endorsed and encouraged me to do what I could. That was all the permission I needed.
I ran/walked more than 300 miles during treatment. People thought I was insane. I just didn’t know any other way to deal with what was happening to me. And what was happening to me? Chemotherapy and hair loss and nausea. A mastectomy and reconstruction. Radiation burns and fatigue.
Physical fitness was the only way I felt normal, and feeling normal was all I wanted. I needed something like this fundraiser to know I wasn’t alone. There are more people like me out there and they need this, too.
And, my favorite part about this fundraiser? That one word: after.
When I was going through treatment, I felt like everyone around me was just waiting to see if I’d die. Or, if someone did mention “after” it was in terms of things I’d never do again. Things like:
- “You’ll never do a push up again.”
- “You’ll never be able to lift heavy weights.”
- “Doesn’t running make the cancer spread?”
This fundraiser, though, assumes there will be an after. So casually. So simply. It just throws the word out there like, “…well, duh.” And I love them for it. Because there is nothing casual about that word when you’re in the middle of treatment. After is a luxury you do not allow yourself to consider.
Erica and I will be rowing on November 26th. I hope you will join us.