Closing the Door on 2014 – AKA The Year I Out Ran Cancer

Photos from 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend:  Family 5K, 10K, Half, Full

Photos from 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: Family 5K, 10K, Half, Full

2014 was one of the best years of my life – hands down.

I mean what’s not to love.  I finished chemotherapy.  I got new boobs.  My hair grew back.  I got to run 50 races.  Seriously, what more could you and should you really ask for in life?

So here are some of my highlights from 2014:  

Finishing Chemotherapy: 

I don’t know a better way to kick off the year except by completing chemotherapy treatments.  On Thursday January 2nd, one day earlier than scheduled due to an impending snowstorm, I recevied my 6th and final chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.  I would still require an additional 13 Herceptin treatments, but Herceptin wasn’t as debilitating to the body as Taxotere and Carboplatin.

Some photos from different stages of breast cancer treatment.

Some photos from different stages of breast cancer treatment.

As the chemotherapy drugs left my system I grew stronger.   Every time I sat in the cancer ward to receive treatment, with fear and suffering around me, I left re-energized to live my life to the fullest and appreciate the NOW.  Every opportunity I was given I took advantage.  I celebrated being alive.  I reflected on the past and made a plan for the future.

With my doctor and some brave patients receiving treatment.

With my doctor and some brave patients receiving treatment.

Outrunning Cancer: 

Running through breast cancer treatments and surgeries wasn’t easy.  My oncologist supported and encouraged me to run knowing it was my way of coping having breast cancer and loosing my breasts.  At any age, a double mastectomy is not an easy process.  It is not just one surgery, but a series of appointments with lots of recovery – both physically and mentally.  And as you know if you follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I used running as my coping mechanism.

Races 4-7:  Tinker Bell 5K, 10K, Half, Princess 5K

Races 4-7: Tinker Bell 5K, 10K, Half, Princess 5K

I wasn’t always feeling good and running wasn’t always easy. But I completed 50 races in 2014 with a total of 485.49 racing miles/843.97 miles in total.  Here’s some of my running stats:

Providence Half, Ragnar Cape Cod, Iron Horse Half, Runners World Hat Trick

Providence Half, Ragnar Cape Cod, Iron Horse Half, Runners World Hat Trick

  • 17 5k’s
  • 7 10k’s
  • 14 Half Marathons
  • 4 Full Marathons
  • 8 – other distances including 1 duathlon
  •  2 PR’s, 5 hats, 11 states, 41 bibs, 44 shirts and 48 medals

Not bad (and quite crazy) considering I wasn’t allowed to run for 9 weeks of 2014.

Breast Cancer Walk, 1/4 Marathon, Legends 4-miler, Simsbury 10K

Breast Cancer Walk, 1/4 Marathon, Legends 4-miler, Simsbury 10K

Became A Media Whore: 

Why not turn something not so fun to talk about into something inspiring to motivate others?  I was given the opportunity to share my breast cancer story and share I did.  First, I celebrated finishing chemotherapy at the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon completing the Dopey Challenge.  My story was documented by runDisney for their Why I run Disney series:

Then I was asked to appear on Emotional Mojo by Diet Diva herself Tara Gidus.  Here’s the link to the segment on EmotionalMojo.

I Got New Boobs: 

Yup, Christmas came early for me in 2014.  The Tuesday following runDisney’s Princess Half Marathon weekend, February 25th, I went back into the hospital for a complete hysterectomy and my new breast implants.  Unfortunately, the entire breast reconstruction process is a long, tedious process and I went back into the hospital again on August 1st for additional reconstruction.

Top:  Post hysterectomy/reconstruction  Bottom:  Post reconstruction

Top: Post hysterectomy/reconstruction Bottom: Post reconstruction

 I Touched Greatness: 

The running community is not only inspiring, but humble and incredibly giving of their experiences, expertise and time.  Here are some of the greats I got to met “in the flesh” in 2014!

With Dimity & SBS, Bill Rodgers, Mr. Yasso and half of Team Hoyt.

With Dimity & SBS, Bill Rodgers, Mr. Yasso and half of Team Hoyt.

With Aly Raisman, Meb Keflezighiand Kathrine Switzer

With Aly Raisman, Meb Keflezighi and Kathrine Switzer

I Became Part of the Team:

It was quite a honor and humbling to be asked to apply to represent the inaugural Team HMF.  Even though I run and I “race”, I don’t always consider myself a “real” runner because I’m not really fast.  But regardless, I was one of the 14 women and 10 men representing fast and not-so-fast runners (me) for the 2014 Team HMF.

Representing Team HMF at the Manchester Road Race, Norwich Winter Fest, Huffing for the Stuffing and Mitten Run.

Representing Team HMF at the Manchester Road Race, Norwich Winter Fest, Huffing for the Stuffing and Mitten Run.

I also was honored to win a spot and represent the national Team Chocolate Milk.  I only was able to run Las Vegas for Team Chocolate Milk in 2014, but hope to inspire and run more in 2015!

Avengers 5K, Avengers Half, Representing Team Chocolate Milk in Las Vegas, Malibu Fitness 5K

Avengers 5K, Avengers Half, Representing Team Chocolate Milk in Las Vegas, Malibu Fitness 5K

I Crossed Items Off My Bucket List:

My bucket list is always evolving and I was able to cross a few items off in 2014!  I ran my first Ragnar – Cape Cod and then a few months later I got to run another for Team Bondi Bands at Ragnar Adirondacks (an ultra no less).  I also completed my first duathlon, set a new 10K PR at the BAA 10K, and a new 5K PR at HMF Women’s Red Dress 5K.

Completing the Shamrock Duathlon

Completing the Shamrock Duathlon

Two H-U-G-E Disney bucket list items were accomplished in 2014.  First, I got to tour Walt Disney’s apartment on Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland.  (I also got to see the BATHROOM).

Standing in Walt Disney's apartment.

Standing in Walt Disney’s apartment.

And then we were asked to dine at the private, and legendary, Club 33 in Disneyland.

Enjoying lunch at Club 33

Enjoying lunch at Club 33

I Took the Trip of a Lifetime: 

My family and I finally got to take our National Park “Death Tour.”  In 16 days we traveled 4,671 miles by car to 17 states, 12 National Parks, slept in 11 hotel rooms,  and took over 2,000 photos.  We saw bison, elk, moose, prairie dogs, wolves and even 1 black bear – UPCLOSEANDTOOCLOSEFORCOMFORT.    We saw the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Indian Reservations, geysers, waterfalls, dinosaur bones, etc.  We hiked, fished, rode horses, dug for fossils and even white-water rafted. 

IMG_4850

Celebrated My 43rd in Style!

I turned 43 in 2014 and decided to turn the milestone into an event.  I first got to attend a meet & greet for Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic to the Stars (all time favorite fluff to read).

096

With the author, Sophie Kinsella (pen name).

 

But best of all – I asked for and received the best 43rd birthday present a cancer patient could ask for…her chemotherapy port removed!

Pre-surgery for port removal on my 43rd birthday!

Pre-surgery for port removal on my 43rd birthday!

So these were some of my highlights of 2014.  I am looking forward to an outstanding 2015.  The best is yet to come!

With Gratitude: 

Thank you to my family and friends for allowing my dreams to come true.  I also want to thank my social media family sharing my story and supporting me through my struggles and my triumphs.  Thank you for your continued love and support.  Many people have reached out to me throughout 2014 to share their personal struggles of how my story has helped them to reach their goals.  I am humbled by your kind words.  If you see me at a race, please introduce yourself, because I would be honored to meet you in person and to shake your hand.

Special thanks to Cherylann, Sue, Mary, Tara, Candice, Terri-Ann, Jo-Lynne and Nicole for allowing me to call on you at any and every hour of the day.  To my Best Running Friends, Alison and Janice, for allowing me to abandon them completely in 2014 on my “outrunning cancer” quest.  To Perfectly Goofy Gail for being game and crazy enough to run beside me.  To my medical staff of nurses and doctors at Hartford Hospital who took care of me while in surgery, recovery and throughout treatment (I don’t WANT to know what you did when I was under).  And to my family and friends for putting up with my running obsession this and every year since 2008.  But most of all, to my husband Jack, who shakes his head, but willingly “allows” me to follow my heart and continue to live my big crazy dreams – you all have made me a stronger, braver person because of your love and support.  Here’s to an even better 2015!

CHEERS TO 2015!

#DrinkAllTheDrinks – CHEERS TO 2015!

2 Comments on “Closing the Door on 2014 – AKA The Year I Out Ran Cancer

  1. Aw heck, now I’m sitting here at work crying. Hope the waterproof mascara really IS waterproof. Congratulations on an AMAZING 2014 and thank you for being so inspirational! Wish I still lived in CT just so we could hang. Then again, it IS January 2nd and it’s 76 degrees in sunny south Florida….:) Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

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