By: Holly Joy Berkey
Every October, we are inspired and touched by the stories of those who have fought to overcome Breast Cancer. We at Spartan Race recognize the true #unstoppable nature of the numerous individuals who battle this ferocious disease. In this post, we would like to honor them by sharing their stories. These two women have regained their confidence and sense of self by joining the Spartan Race family, and we admire their incredible strength. Here are two survivors’ stories, in their own words.
I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma on December 1st, 2011. After a double mastectomy and the removal of several lymph nodes in July of 2012, I set the Malibu Spartan Sprint in December as my comeback race. Completing that Sprint gave me an amazing feeling, so much so that I signed up for the Super in Temecula the next month.
I had my second surgery in July of 2013 and spent five days in ICU. When I left the hospital, I needed a walker. My mom came out to stay with me, and we began walking around the backyard patio, adding more distance each day until I was able to walk on my own again.
It did not end there. I had yet another surgery in October of 2014. Coming back from that one seemed to be the hardest, even though it was the least invasive of the three surgeries. In late December, I received an email about the Hawaii Trifecta which would be held in August of 2015. Even though I barely had the energy to do anything, I made the choice to sign up for all three races. Not only did I complete the Trifecta weekend, but I have also completed a second Trifecta this year as well.
I have been so blessed these past few years to have support from my family, friends, co-workers, classmates at NDS Kettlebells, and great doctors. They say it takes a village to raise a child; well, it took a village to help me kick cancer’s ass.
This October, I celebrate two years of remission from Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer. In those two years, I have come a long way from the frail patient I was. The disease and its treatments broke me down physically and mentally: chemotherapy, radiation, multiple surgeries, and the resulting broken bones I suffered were just part of the battle. I wanted to do something for me, to prove that I could be healthy and in charge of my own body again. Spartan Race was the perfect outlet for that, with its focus on being #unbreakable and #unstoppable.
I set a small goal last year to complete just one Spartan Race, the Tuxedo Sprint. Once I crossed that finish line, I was overcome by a sense of empowerment. I wanted to do it again, and again, and again. I went on to earn a complete Trifecta in that same year.
Getting to put those little pie pieces together was a huge accomplishment for me; it was like putting myself back together after having been so broken.
I wanted to continue growing in the following race season, so I upped the ante and raised the bar toward earning a Double Trifecta in the 2015 race season.
By the time I race with my mentor and friend Coach Casey Eischen in December at the Miami Spartan Sprint, I will be earning a 4X Trifecta. While training me for my first Spartan Race in 2014, Casey saw a need for recovery and fitness guidance in women who had undergone Breast Cancer-related surgeries (both medically necessary and prophylactic) and created Foobie Fitness. I’m proud to be a Foobie Athlete, and to take what she so selflessly gave me to turn it into my own personal achievements.
With every single Spartan Race I complete, I am showing every person out there who has been affected by this disease that they, too, can take charge of their own bodies. Cancer does not have to keep you from achieving your own goals. Aroo!