Running After Breast Cancer: Katie’s Diagnosis Story

Hi, I'm Katie. I'm many things: a mom, a wife, a professional, a new AMR team member, and I'm also a breast cancer survivor. I'll be sharing my story here on Another Mother Runner as I get back into a regular running routine and train for a half marathon. I hope you'll come along. Feel free to ask questions or share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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It was a beautiful sunny day in Colorado when I found The Lump. After a fun morning at the pool, we came home, I turned on a show for my girls (6, 5 & 3) while I hopped in the shower alone—a luxury for us mamas. My boobs had been aching a little bit, so I was feeling around and to see what was going on when I found a hard, round lump in my left boob. After nursing 3 kids, my boobs were nothing more than sad, saggy sacks of tissue, so I immediately knew that something was wrong. I’m not one to be a hypochondriac, but I called my OB/GYN to be on the safe side and I got in to see her the very next morning.

My husband was at work, so I brought the girls to my appointment—armed with iPads & headphones—while she checked me out. She reassured me that it was probably nothing, but “let’s get you scheduled for a mammogram, ultrasound and most likely they’ll do a biopsy at the same time.”  Um, doesn’t sound like “nothing” to me, but ok. That happened the next day. And as I lay there during my biopsy, I looked up at the sweet Radiologist and asked him if he thought it was cancer—and he looked at me with the most compassionate eyes, and said, “Yes.”

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During our trip to Mexico, right after I was diagnosed.

The next day we were leaving for a 2 week trip—1 week in NYC to visit friends and then we were headed to Mexico to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday.  Even though I was scared out of my mind, I still boarded the plane with my girls the next day to head to NYC. We had such a fun weekend meeting up with friends, eating cookies from Levain and slurping milkshakes from Shake Shack that I almost forgot about my looming biopsy results, when my doctor called me first thing Monday morning and told me that it was, in fact, an invasive ductcal carcinoma. Shit.

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My birthday celebration - I had chemo #2 that day.

Fast forward 6 months—I’ve completed five months of chemo, a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, and I’m currently pumping up my expanders every few weeks until I get my permanent implants after ski season (#priorities). I’ll be taking Herceptin through the end of July. I just started running again and will be part of the TLAM Heart Rate Training Half Marathon Program, so I’ll see you ladies in there. While I’m much slower than I used to be and have to take lots of breaks to walk, I am so thankful that I have the energy to run again and enjoy the gorgeous Colorado sunshine.

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About 2 weeks after my first chemo treatment my hair started falling out and I made an appointment to get my head shaved. My husband suggested that the we all go - at first I was hesitant because I thought it would terrify the kids, but it ended up being a really special experience for all of us. If my BC teaches them anything, I hope its to be brave, no matter what!

If my story can help anyone, my Breast Cancer was worth it. Check your boobs, no matter how old you are. I was 38 when I was diagnosed and Breast Cancer was the furthest thing from my mind. Everyone says that having cancer gives you perspective, and they’re right. I’m really trying not to sweat the small stuff—I’ve decided to take a deep breath when I’m about to yell at my kids (again), go out on more dates with my adorable husband and to go for a run when I have a break in the day instead of checking email.  See you on the trails—I’ll be the bald(ish) one with a big smile on my face.

44 responses to “Running After Breast Cancer: Katie’s Diagnosis Story

  1. Katie you are a warrior and an inspiration to us all, most notably your beautiful girls. So thankful to Bethany for connecting us mountain mamas! Please feel free to lean on me and William for anything at all. Much love!!

  2. Hi Katie! I am in no way trying to compare cancer stories, because you and I both know every single persons journey is completely different! However, it is uncanny how many parallels our stories have. As I read your beautiful strength-filled story above, I was reliving those earlier moments in my journey of being diagnosed. Way to be strong and have courage!!! I am proud of you as a fellow survivor! Prayers for your upcoming reconstruction surgery. I’m awaiting mine as well, early Feb. Blessings to you and your family, Alexa

    1. Hi Alexa- It’s crazy how many of us out there have similar stories! Hope you are feeling well and good luck with your surgery! Hope it won’t keep you away from running too long. 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding all of us to enjoy the simple things in life. You are an inspiration! I look forward to reading more.

  4. Katie, you are an inspiration. I’m so happy to hear you’re doing well and on the road to recovery. Looking forward to hearing more about your half-marathon training. Sending you, Dan, and the girls lots and lots of love and good wishes from Chicago! Xoxoxo

    1. Thanks Jennie! Kind of crazy to run my first marathon at almost 40 and after cancer, but life gives you curveballs, right? I’m always so inspired by your running history! You’ve crushed Chicago so many times!

  5. Just a note of support to you. Sending you healing energy and positive light. Look forward to running with you – both literally and figuratively. See you on the trails…

  6. Katie, you are an inspiration! I will be cheering you on from Philadelphia and wishing you ever success both in your recovery and in your return to racing!

  7. Katie!! Your story was EXACTLY what I needed to read this morning, as I sit recovering from my expander/implant exchange 2 days ago. I’ve been a part of the AMR community since the beginning but didn’t realize there were others here with similar stories. I was diagnosed in June (prob around the same time as you), 3 kids, 42 years old, no history of any BC in my family. Found out I have the BRCA1 mutation, so double mastectomy/oophorectomy a few weeks later and 2 days ago surgery to replace the expanders with implants. No chemo or ongoing meds. I’m signed up for a half marathon (April 30), so once I’m given permission to run again (in about a month) we’ll see how training goes.

    Perhaps we need a “running after BC” group of AMRs?

    1. OMG Amy! I’m sorry to hear all that you’ve gone through, but it does help to know that others are in a similar situation. I agree, a running after BC would be a great FB group to start. I’ll talk to Sarah & Dimity and see if we can get it going! Hope you’re feeling ok and can get back on the trails soon! xx

  8. WOW! What a wonderful story! You are teaching your three daughters (and everyone else in your life) how to take the bull by the horns and handle the “hard” times with grace and strength. I pray that you always remember the lessons that you have learned and pass them onto your daughters. You are a STRONG woman! Take care and thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much Sandy! I really appreciate your kind words. Trust me, I am never going to forget what I’ve learned through this process – and be thankful every day for this second chance!

  9. Thank you for sharing! Our stories are very similar, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36 and also underwent chemo, radiation and surgery. I’m incredibly thankful to have running as a source of joy and outlet for all the crazy feelings that go along with being a survivor. I’ll reach my 5 year “cancerversary” this year. I wanted to make a suggestion, if you don’t mind. A couple years after going through treatment, I started developing stress fractures when I would increase my mileage (attempts to run a marathon)- first in my tibia and then a very serious stress fracture in the femoral neck. I discovered that at 40 I had developed very low bone density and, actually, osteoporosis, which doesn’t run in my family so it was quite a shock. My oncologist believes that it was caused by chemo and by tamoxifen, which I continue to take daily to reduce recurrence risk. Unfortunately I never had a bone density scan prior to treatment so we aren’t sure. I wish I could go back in time and have a bone density scan earlier and monitor my bone health more carefully. I’m thankful that running exposed the increasing weakness in my bones– I would never have known I had low bone density if I hadn’t been running 30+ miles a week, but now I have a chance to do something about it. If your doctors are amenable, I would ask them to let you have a bone density scan to serve as a baseline. I really wish someone had encouraged me to do this, and it’s a really easy test. Congratulations on reaching the end of treatment. I wish you much joy!

    1. Congrats on your upcoming 5 year cancerversary! That is a huge milestone. 🙂 Thank you so much for the suggestion. I have not had a bone density scan and am going to talk to m oncologist about it at my next appointment. Thank you!!

  10. Thank you for sharing. I’m an ovarian cancer survivor and am training for a half marathon with the Heart Rate Training Amazing Plan. My run is April 23rd, when is your run?

    1. Hi Erica, Congratulations to you! I’m just starting with the HR 101 Plan. My second surgery will be in April, so my race won’t be until August. Still trying to decide which one to do, but I think it’s going to be Georgetown to Idaho Springs race in Colorado. This is my first half!

  11. You are so strong! I look forward to cheering for you through this training cycle. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

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