A few years ago, probably on the back of a particularly gluttonous festive season and far too much wine, some friends of mine and I started a little running group.
It was pretty laughable at first. (Sorry girls…perhaps I’m speaking for myself here!) We’d meet down at the local park at 7am on a Sunday morning (hello commitment!), lycra’d to the hilt, and pound the pavement huffing and puffing our guts out.
I can’t speak for my friends, but for me, wearing Lycra to actually exercise was quite a new phenomenon! I had been pretty good at wearing it in the guise of exercising (which really just meant I’d found a good way to validate not having a shower before school drop-off). Yep, until running group started, my collection of lycra had only ever served as a lazy alternative to clothes, that had the added effect of making me appear like I was prioritising fitness! Win-win!
As there was already an impressive ‘A-team’ of seasoned marathoners who seemed to bound around the Clifton Hill tracks most mornings as graceful as gazelles, we adopted the self-proclaimed moniker of ‘B Team’. In comparison to them, we were total plodders. In fact, back then even calling ourselves the ‘B Team’ was probably a stretch!
But plod we did, three mornings a week. It was the first time ever I had actually stuck to any sort of exercise regime for more than a few weeks and it was all because of the company I was in. These wonderful women were supportive, funny and rallied behind anyone lagging behind. Despite running being very much an individual sport, we were a total team.
In fact, a strange transition took hold of all of us after a while. We girls pounded the pavement year-round and from barely being able to stumble around a 3km loop in the beginning, we were suddenly PB’ing with the best of them. (Well, sort of!) Here’s a picture of us after our first EVER 10km fun run. Proud much? You betcha!
I hate to humble-brag (okay I love to humble-brag!), but we had a couple of stellar years!
Last year some of us (yours truly included) even completed our first ever Half Marathon!
FIST PUMP – CHEST BUMP – VICTORY DANCE – LLEYTON C’MON!
Unfortunately, like most tales of glory, there’s usually (always) some sneaky, unforeseeable battle waiting just around the corner, ready to catch you unawares just when you’re flying high.
You, my ever faithful blog readers will know where the story goes from here…
Run run run run run run run…Happy Kate…run run run….Stage 3C Invasive Lobular & Ductal Carcinoma.
To this day, more than four months on, I still find it pretty difficult to comprehend I have Breast Cancer. It just feels so at odds with my original life plan. I never even envisaged battling cancer, let alone doing so at 37 years of age.
Having Breast Cancer has meant a very sudden and total deviation away from the wonderful life I was living into the brand new, horribly hectic world of a cancer patient. This year alone has been a whirlwind of appointments, scans, check-ups, tests, surgery and chemo, with lots more still on the horizon for me; a seemingly endless treatment regime that has left my mind and body feeling completely assaulted. Life as I once knew it, seems gone forever.
By far the hardest thing for me to adjust to, has been the change from looking and feeling well, to being so sick. Last year, I really think I was at my peak of health and fitness, yet I did it all with cancer growing in my breast! The main tumour found back in December was 7cm. It had been there a long time, growing insidiously without my knowledge, but not impacting upon my health in any way. Usually, the diagnosis of disease and subsequent treatment makes a sick person feel better, but cancer treatment does the opposite. It’s a cruel hand to be dealt, but the only chance I have of recovery.
It’s been quite a change for me, and a lot for my beautiful friends and family to come to grips with too.
That’s just the thing, isn’t it? I guess we always hear of it happening to others, but we never dream it will ever happen to someone close to us, let alone ourselves.
I’ve blogged about the stats before here and here, and I will continue to spread awareness from this little platform until I’m blue in the face, because I would love to know that greater awareness spread via my blog prevented others from having to go through all the fear of a late stage cancer diagnosis and the awful treatments that I am undergoing this year.
Please, tell every woman in your life over the age of 18 to check her breasts thoroughly. Every. Single. Month.
While I have had to struggle through a lot of pain and sickness this year and still have a way to go, I take great solace in knowing that treatment for my particularly aggressive type of Breast Cancer (HER2+) is much better these days than in the past. Alongside my current course of Taxol chemotherapy, for example, I’m also getting two separate drugs, Herceptin and Perjeta, which are called ‘Targeted Therapies’. While traditional chemotherapy acts against all rapidly dividing cells, Herceptin and Perjeta identify and attack the cancer cells directly.
They are part of an exciting new wave of cancer treatment. Drugs like Herceptin and Perjeta are changing the treatment of a whole variety of cancers, not just Breast Cancer. Perjeta in particular is very new, and still only administered to people like me within clinical trials. I’m very, VERY fortunate to be one of only 30 people Australia-wide who is eligible to receive it as a part of the KAITLIN trial.
Hooray for research scientists!
Research is vital. Whenever I feel pangs of anxiety about what the future may hold, it gives me so much hope to think that there are gun scientists out there working tirelessly to learn more and more about cancer. And while I can’t completely shake off the fear or forget the scary statistics, the one thing that helps me reset my sails when angst sets in, is research.
My beautiful running group friends (big MWAH to you all) have pledged to run this year’s Mothers’ Day Classic – for me…something that floods me with pure happiness every time I think about it. To them, and everyone who is running or walking as part of Team Kate, or supporting me by contributing to our fundraising efforts, I just want you to know that your love and encouragement totally overwhelms me. Every time I need a pep-up, I think about you. I am absolutely staggered at what we’ve achieved so far. Team Kate is currently ranked 4th for MDC fundraising efforts Australia wide! AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING!
I can’t wait to walk it. While I’d much prefer to be running alongside my ‘B Team’ compatriots (who are A-Team all the way in my books), this year my body is going through a bit too much to even consider it. Next year…maybe! I am looking forward to pounding the pavement at a slower pace with my wonderful family and newfound Pink Sisters and making a sizeable contribution to cancer research through fundraising. I have a little inkling it’s going to be a day of big emotions.
If you haven’t donated yet, and would like to, here’s the link to our page. Any and every little amount will be really appreciated.