“Whenever I exercised, I always felt like I was winning against cancer. As long as I could move, I was okay.”
For my cousin Sue, getting back onto her bike while battling cancer was not just about the time for herself, away from her busy life as a teacher and mother of three teenage girls. It was the path to recovery.
“I found my love of exercise after [twin daughters] Isabel and Emily were born and I started Weight Watchers. It became not only a way for me to lose weight, but one of the few things I could do for myself when the girls were so young. Eventually I did it as much for my mind as my body.
I always tell people that working and exercising were the two things that got me through chemo. When I had to make the decision to have chemo or not, one of the deciding factors was that not only could I exercise during it, but that I should exercise because it helped with side effects and reduced the risk of recurrence. I walked about five days a week throughout and also got into riding my bike, which was a lot easier on my body than running. Whenever I exercised, I always felt like I was winning against cancer. As long as I could move, I was okay.
I hope that my love of exercise has influenced my girls. Isabel and Emily will be cross country captains next year and they're very into fitness. Caroline also goes to the gym and has done spinning classes, which I like to think has something to do with me!!
My dad was very athletic but he never really encouraged me and my siblings to be athletic. He's had more of an influence since he's been gone, actually. There are times when I'm hurting or don't think I can do it, I think of him and his incredible strength and know that somewhere inside of me I have his strength too.
I’ve now run a few races and done several rides but I do have two favorite events—the NYC Half Marathon and the Smilow Bike Ride. The NYC Half was my first half and it was so amazing to be running through the city, especially when I hit 42nd street. My other favorite was my first Smilow Bike Ride (Smilow is the cancer center at Yale where I was treated). It was 3 months after I finished chemo and I was still fairly bald, but I made it through the 25 miles and even passed some people on a hill. It was such a great feeling. The picture here was taken right after I finished that ride.
Here’s a funny story from my early days of running. I had to have an upper endoscopy. When the nurse took my vitals before the procedure, my pulse was low and she said, "You must be a runner." That was the first time someone said that to me. I was knocked out for the procedure and when I came to, I told [my husband] Ron the story. He said, "I know, you've told me this three times already. YOU’RE A RUNNER!”