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Breast Cancer and Running: Keli’s Story

runner with breast cancer
Keli at the Boulder Bolder in 2017, about five months before she was diagnosed.

During this week, our Motherlode of Miles week that benefits the Donna Foundation, we are profiling four #motherrunners whose lives have been changed by breast cancer; hopefully the perspective and ideas they share will benefit others who are going through similar situations.

Yesterday, we met Heidi. Today, we're meeting Keli Jackson Hughes from Castle Rock, Colorado, who has 3 human children (5, 8 and 12) and one fur child (18 months)

These posts are in their own words; they will also be guests on the AMR podcast at the end of this week.

Date of Diagnosis: A day I will NEVER forget, October 25, 2017

Type of breast cancer: I had triple-negative breast cancer in my left breast. The tumor was undetected by hand as is was less than 2 cm.  They found it in my very first mammogram after I turned 40. Triple-negative, high-grade ductal carcinoma in situ means that it is not hormone-related and that has not spread to out parts of the breast, thus it does not respond to hormone treatments. There isn't an option of taking a pill after chemo for 5 years to prevent its return. They know very little about how this type progresses and how to prevent it. It is one of the more aggressive breast cancers.

Running through it—or not: I tried to remain active as long as I could, but after the first treatment of "the red devil" I was down for the count. It was hard to much of anything. My back was weak due to steroid shots and my mind was unable to focus on anything much for days after the infusion. By the time it cleared up I would have to go in again for another dose.

How breast cancer changed her running perspective: For the longest time, I kept asking how this happened. I work out, I eat right, and there is no history of breast cancer in my family. I thought for a very long time that I had done something wrong.

Then, I had to change perspective. I had been doing everything right and bad stuff still happens, BUT if I hadn't taken such good care of myself I wouldn't have been as strong as I was during the treatment. I was very healthy (aside from, you know....) and so they were able to do the most intense and effective treatment on me to prevent this from coming back to the best of their ability.  So, now I am grateful rather than resentful.

runner with breast cancer
Keli and her family: a pic she got taken after her diagnosis, before she lost her hair.

Best thing she did for herself during treatment: I rested a lot and I finally let other people take care of me.  For the first round of chemo (I had two different types) I didn't want anyone with me, because why would anyone want to sit with a sick person and be sad for 3 hours?

I also did the 7 days of Gratitude over and over again on the Calm app during and before treatment. It was so transformative and grace saving for me.

When the next round was every week instead of every other week, I enlisted all my buddies and took people up on their offer to keep my company. It made it go by faster. I also have to give a shout out to my Spokane 2017 sisters from the Another Mother Runner Retreat. Their constant gifts and cards and well wishes gave me something to look forward to. I felt so loved and supported.

Best thing others did for her during treatment: I depended a lot on other mother runners who had been through it. My BRF Amanda went to some really difficult appointments with me and even tried to knit me a blanket that ended up looking like long strings of spaghetti which was cozy and made me laugh.

Talking to others telling me that I CAN get through this and it is SUPER tough and next thing you know you will be looking back and saying, "I went through that, I GOT through that and I didn't think I could."

I realize it sounds like common sense to say these things to others going through this, but I needed to hear it A LOT a lot, So I am grateful for this.

There were many times that I felt I lost all sense of humor and that I would never laugh again. I appreciated people more than I ever have for trying to make me laugh, or have hope or even continue on with the treatment. I wanted to quit SO many times  My husband was great during these times, just continuing to remind me that I am doing this hard thing so that I hope to never have to do it again.

6 responses to “Breast Cancer and Running: Keli’s Story

  1. Love to you Kelly! You are an amazing human being and BAMR and I am so glad I got to get to know you in Spokane!!!!!

  2. SW! You are an inspiration…seeing your story come up today….I have no words except that I love you and am proud of you!!!

  3. Another great story about breast cancer. I need these stories this week. I start my 12 week chemo this coming Friday. It’s amazing how I came across this and Heidi’s stories when I needed them! Thanks!

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