October marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Although this is a difficult month for many, this also brings a month of hope. Gina DeChambeau, a breast cancer survivor and runner, talks more about her experience with the disease and how running helped her get through it all.
Were you a runner before you found out that you had breast cancer?
Yes, I was a runner before I was diagnosed with breast cancer but I’m a late bloomer. My first race was the Palmetto Half Marathon on April 10th, 2010. My husband and I crossed that finished line hand and hand lifted high. After that exhilarating experience we were hooked.
When did you first find out that you had breast cancer?
On May 31st, 2013 at the age of 45 I was told I had breast cancer.
What was your reaction and what was your main concern when you found out?
My first reaction and concern when I found out I had breast cancer was, “Am I going to die?” After our family met with our team of doctors on June 5th my reaction was, “I’m going to kick cancer’s ass and give others hope.”
How did cancer impact your running?
The question was how did cancer impact my running but I’d like to change that to how did running impact my cancer. Running had a great impact on me beating cancer. Running helped with my positive mindset. Exercise has been known to fight breast cancer by helping with weight control and by helping improve your hormone levels and the way your immune system works.
Was running something that helped you recover?
Running absolutely helped me recover from breast cancer. I don’t say it lightly and my Fleet Feet family has heard this over and over again, “My passion for running and working at Fleet Feet has been my saving grace.”
After going through something so difficult, how do you have such a positive outlook on life?
After going through this diagnosis it has made me be consistent on taking care of myself. By eating a well balanced diet, running and going to the gym I feel like I’m fighting against cancer everyday. I feel more in control over my life by these healthy habits. Also, working at Fleet Feet being surrounded by like minded coworkers and our inspiring customers has extremely helped with my positivity.
What advice would you give someone going through a similar situation?
My advice to someone going through a similar situation is take care of you, be your own advocate and surround yourself with positive and supportive family and friends.
Why do you run?
I run because I can. Just recently I had an epiphany moment. I didn’t want to sign up for the Women’s Only 5k because I wasn’t prepared to race but I don’t have to race. I just need to participate. I’m lucky I can run. Some don’t have that choice. I’m blessed to give back to a community that has given so much to me. The Women’s Only is about camaraderie and fellowship and I want to be apart of that!
I would like to close with an inspirational quote by @ncrunnerjacky who became a runner after her diagnosis with cancer and is an amputee. “LIFE is a gift, I accept it. Life is an adventure, I dare it. Life is a mystery, I’m unfolding it. Life is a puzzle, I’m solving it. Life is a game, I play it. Life can be a struggle, I’m Facing it. Life is beauty, I praise it. Life is an opportunity, I Took it. Life is my mission, I’m fulfilling it!” We all need to embrace theses words no matter what challenges come before us. Thank you Jacky for being and inspiration to me and so many!