Why I Run: Dana’s Story

Here’s another strong as steel woman for you. Dana and I lived in the same neighborhood growing up. We lost touch over the years and through the magical genius of the internet reconnected. She’s been through some rather challenging years but she’s still here, I’m glad to say, and she’s going to tell you why she runs. Please show Dana some love.

I only caught a few things the nurse and doctor told me…cancer, fatigue, exercise, chemo, radiation, surgery…it was all a jumbled mess. When I went back and reviewed all of the paperwork I didn’t comprehend much more. I understood this, “the best way to combat fatigue from chemotherapy is exercise.” I could do that…”take a walk”…I could do one better, I could run.

The first day I ran for 1 minute…not a second more and even that was a struggle. Every day I added 1 minute. The day I finally got to 20 minutes, I thought: I’m a runner!! I’m no longer the girl with cancer, I’m the girl who runs! Last year, running gave me something to think about other than living. The thought of cancer being the thing that defined me was worse than the cancer itself. My life became so consumed with cancer, treatment, and survival that it completely took over. That was all different when I was running.

When I ran, I felt normal. I felt even better than normal. It made me feel like people were staring at me because I was exercising and maybe they were a little jealous. It made me forget that I didn’t have hair. After my mastectomy, I told myself that I wasn’t any LESS of a woman, I was MORE aerodynamic! Running gave me something to talk about with my father that made the broken look in his face fade slightly.

I loved to see the envious look on the medical staff’s faces when I told them that I was a runner. I loved to hear myself say it. “I’m a runner.” It didn’t cure my cancer…the chemo, surgery, and radiation did that…but it cured my head. It gave me time to think about just how strong I really was and sometimes pat myself on the back a little. It allowed me to set goals for myself that didn’t start with “live to see…”

Today I feel a sense of power when I tie my running shoes. I love to walk outside in the fresh air with my earphones in and plan out my course. I actually welcome the occasional pains in my knees and sore muscles. I know that if it hurts, it’s obviously still alive! It’s a time to reflect and to sort out any troubles I may have. It’s a time to put things in perspective. Most importantly, it’s MY time.