Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.Sonia Ricotti
Words can be very powerful; some might even say life changing. For me, the words above have become a sort of mantra that I first embodied during a time in my life that was filled with uncertainty and fear. It is through hindsight that I am really able to see how clearly I lived these words.
The day that my life, and outlook on life, changed forever was September 14, 2012. That was the day the doctor called and told me that that I had cancer. I had an aggressive form of breast cancer and in turn my medical team had developed an aggressive treatment plan to help me kick cancer’s butt: chemo, double mastectomy, radiation, and finally reconstruction. I had cancer and it would be a long road to recovery. That’s just the way it was.
I’ll spare you all the details of what it’s like to go through treatments or have cancer. In a nutshell, it sucks and there are lots of yucky parts to it. Lots. While I don’t want to downplay all the negative aspects of cancer, I choose to focus on the positive and share a few things I learned along the way.
As I reflect on having cancer, I do it the only way I know how.
Two things that have always been part of who I am are being an athlete and being goal driven.
It makes sense (or at least it does to me) that when I reflect on having cancer, I use the analogy of a triathlon. Those of us who have completed a triathlon (especially those of us who despise running or swimming as a sport) know that there are three distinct legs of the race: swim, bike, and run. When I did triathlons, I celebrated each completed leg of the race and when I was done, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride.
That is how I thought about my race to kick cancer’s butt. Leg 1: Chemo. Leg 2: Surgery. Leg 3: Radiation. Just as I had always done with triathlons and marathons, I celebrated each completed “leg” of the race to fight for my life. The day I started chemo I started to beat cancer. I was empowered to be doing something about it. I had a very positive response to each treatment and here I am nearly 9 years later.
Here I am. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Cancer changed me. My body is forever changed and some days I look at my scars and see the damage cancer has done to my body. Other days, I wear the scars as badges of honor and courage. I’ve come to realize that life is short and tomorrow isn’t certain. What I choose to do with the time I’ve been given is try to be the best version of myself.
I can’t rewind time and go back to the person I once was or have my old body back. Having cancer is part of my story. It has made me stronger and I am changed in ways that I never anticipated at the start of this journey.
I am better. I am stronger. More importantly, we are stronger together.
I am blessed to have amazing family and friends by my side who have “paddled” with me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. I continue to wear the paddle necklace that was given to me when I was diagnosed and I now “paddle” with others to support them on their journey. Life is short…all we can do is live in the moment and be there for each other no matter what the day brings.
Well, today brings the opportunity to participate in the 2021 DWS half marathon. I have been involved with this race since 2016 as the coordinator of the Kids Korral. Due to Covid, the Kids Korral has not been operating the last two years, so I decided that maybe I would take this opportunity to run the half marathon. I have always wanted to run a half marathon, and what better time than the present.
My body and fitness levels have changed post cancer and I’m really out of shape, but I have the opportunity. It’s time to stop making excuses and start making time for myself and getting fit. Stay tuned for the rest of the story…I hope you will follow me throughout the journey to complete my first half marathon!
– Kristen Linzmeier, Breast Cancer Survivor