I got into running to lose weight back in 2011 and soon got addicted. I ran through both of my pregnancies and then I got into triathlon in 2017. It has been a dream of mine to get into triathlon, and I finally found myself with the time and friends who could help me achieve that goal. Then, at 32 years old I was diagnosed with stage 3 HER2+ breast cancer, weeks after completing my first full marathon (my daughter was 11 months old). I had 4 months of intensive chemotherapy and had a complete clinical response – my cancer was gone!
I did a lot of research and I decided to try and stay cancer free naturally. That lasted 6 months before I had a recurrence, so I was back on chemo. I had my single mastectomy (no reconstruction) in April 2019, followed by 25 rounds of radiation. When I first got my diagnosis I posted in RMA to see if anyone had kept running through their treatments. I got some very inspiring responses from other mummas saying they had done half and full marathons during their treatments, so I watched a link on exercise and cancer that was shared on my post and thought I would give it crack and see what would happen…
I got tri club rookie of the year for the 2017/18 season, did the half ironman swim leg, another two marathons, several half marathons and trail half marathons, my first Olympic distance triathlon and several sprint triathons during this time. I have also run 5k, 10k, 21.1k and 42.2k personal bests and I have registered for my first half ironman in November this year, and my husband just surprised me with a full ironman entry in my home town in May 2020.
I’m so greatful for triathlon and running for helping me get through this battle with cancer. It gives me goals to work towards, a sense of community and purpose. It also shows my kids how important it is to hold your head up high in the face of adversity and weather the storm.
by Belynda Carrall