Running a Marathon with Mon MacDonald
I'm 30 years old and was fitness crazy prior to my breast cancer journey. I am a healthy, non-smoker and non-drinker and I’ve never gone to the hospital in my life.
I found a small lump on my right breast in early June 2010, just three weeks after running The Rotorua Marathon. (The photo at left shows Mon completing the Auckland Marathon in October 2010).
I went to see two doctors and they told me not to worry about this. ‘It feels benign, you're very fit and young’, they said but fortunately one of them referred me for a mammogram. I trusted my doctor so didn't pay any more attention to the lump and carried on my life as normal. I was training for my first Ironman, between 15-20 hours a week (swim, ride, bike, pump, combat, balance and yoga) and working full time in a busy marketing company. A busy but happy life style!
I went in for my mammogram on 23rd July 2010. The lump was not clear on the mammogram but an ultrasound and biopsy confirmed it: yes it's cancer!
My surgery (a lumpectomy) was scheduled on Friday 13th August but I needed further surgery because one lymph node was positive for cancer. I had more surgery on September 10th.
I was able to keep training while recovering from each surgery and that helped me to deal with this stressful journey, both physically and mentally.
On the 31st of October I ran the Auckland Marathon, my fourth marathon. My time was 4 hours 46 minutes, my worst time ever, but after all I had been throught over the previous four months – and just seven weeks after surgery – it really was one of my best times and best runs ever. My cheeks were the only part of my body to be sore on the day because I had been smiling for nearly 5 hours!
I began a course of chemotherapy in November and did well (FEC and Taxol). I was fortunate in that I did not suffer too much from side effects – a bit queasy every now and then for a couple of days after each treatment – and I was able to work through. My employer has been very supportive throughout and was flexible with my hospital appointments, allowing me to take shorter days if I needed to.
On my 19th day after my first treatment I went to the U2 concert (pictured at left)! It was my first big night out after my diagnosis and I loved every minute of it.
My doctor encourages me to keep on with my exercise but to listen to my body and not overdo it. I’ve been following this advice. Since chemotherapy, I’ve been keeping up my 8km and 10km runs, doing pump and yoga and I feel great. Being able to do some form of exercise is really important for me mentally.
I had my last Taxol infusion on Tuesday the 8th of March. I will run the Rotorua Marathon on Sat 30 April to cerebrate the ending of this chemo journey. Yippee!!!! :0).
I just keep telling myself to’ hang in there’ and ‘be really kind to myself’. So far that has worked really well.
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