Friday, November 2, 2012

Guest Blogger: Renee

I met Erin as we both sought out support and advice from other BRCA positive women over the last year.  The more we shared, the more we realized how much we have in common in addition to our BRCA positive status--our profession, our young children, and our hobbies.  So as Erin moves toward two ambitious goals—running a half marathon and having a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, I am happy to help her as a guest blogger and answer the question, “Why do I run?”
I run because it’s one of the things in my life that I can control.  Being BRCA positive means that genetically I’ve been dealt a tough hand.  There are so many things that are completely out of my control—the risks, the surveillance, the waiting for appointments and test results, and what’s going on in my own body.  With running, I am in control.  It’s nothing but me, my shoes, and my ipod.  I can run at my own pace and whatever route I choose; I am in control.  
I run for my health.  I know this is an obvious one, but it’s a huge factor for me. Research shows that those with lower BMI have a lower occurrence of cancer.  The reason being estrogen is stored in fat cells; most breast cancers are fed by estrogen, so let’s get all the fat possible off of me.  Lower BMI (and fitting into my skinny jeans) is just the one of many reasons to exercise.  Additional research is showing that the total number of minutes of exercise per week also contributes to lower cancer risks.  Cancer is an overgrowth of unhealthy cells.  Exercise gets your heart pumping, oxygenating your blood.  Cells need this healthy oxygenated blood to grow properly. Striving for 150, 175, or 200 minutes or more of exercise per week can promote healthy cell growth and provide even more cancer protection.  

I run for my sanity.  Through the ups and downs of increase surveillance and the anxiety of decision making that comes with being BRCA positive, running has been my way of coping.  I just crank up the music and go.  Most days it will clear my mind completely.  However, there are those long runs in training when you have miles of quiet time left to nothing but your own thoughts.  Those are the days that I find myself tearing up during a middle of a run.  The pressure, the conflicting opinions, or sometimes just the thought of everything that we’ve been through is overwhelming.  Running is my much needed “me time” and whether I am smiling through the run or crying I always feel much better after. 

I run because I can.  Yes, running is painful, tedious, and exhausting.  But making the decision to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy 8 months ago was worse.  It required a mental and physical strength before, during, and after surgery, that I didn’t know I had.  So this leaves me feeling that there is nothing I cannot accomplish now once I set my mind to it.  I feel such a sense of pride accomplishing a race now especially when I think back to how I felt 6 months ago struggling during physical therapy.    
I run a lot, but I don’t run from cancer and neither does Erin.  I wish you the best of luck in your half marathon, Erin, and I am praying for you to have a successful surgery and speedy recovery.  You are well prepared for both of these big events and you have the strength to accomplish anything you set your mind to!  


  1. I like this topic of 'why I run' - and Renee, I can totally understand how the run gives you control. I feel the same way when I'm in my kitchen adding turmeric to the tomato sauce.

    Great post! Catherine