Beating Breast Cancer Through Cycling

By – September 3, 2013

In 2011, my employer introduced me to the Texas Mamma Jamma bike ride and I completed 45 miles for that year’s event. The ride supports local breast cancer services, and I met several cancer survivors who made me think I should go in for a checkup and get a baseline of my health documented.

Patty Mamma Jamma Pink Bike[2] Patty will participate again in this year's Mamma Jamma Ride[/caption]I’ve always taken care of myself. I prepare healthy, organic food and am physically active. That is why my first-ever mammogram came as a shock.

I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in March 2012 and was left with the burden of deciding my treatment plan. I struggled with the decision on whether and how to treat it, since my mother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly as a result of complications from her treatment of larynx cancer when I was 12 years old.

Despite the diagnosis and my emotional struggles, I continued to ride my bicycle almost everywhere I needed to go, including to doctor’s appointments. I also attended a cycling event where I met Sharon Harris. She had been given the same diagnosis and treatment options 13 years earlier. She told me that she trained for a triathlon while going through radiation therapy and has continued to compete in various sporting events following her treatment. Her story eased my fears, and I felt inspired: I could also remain active during my cancer treatments, and I could get through them without serious injury.

During that season, my body was going through a lot. I was training for a 75-mile bike ride while fighting fatigue and pain from the surgery and radiation treatments. I was able to find comfort through fellow riders as well as local organizations.

Group rides build camaraderie and support Group rides build camaraderie and support (photo by Bill Bastas)[/caption]

Sharon introduced me to Team Survivor, an Austin organization that offers education and fitness classes to women going through cancer treatments. I joined Team Survivor’s bike team and began participating in their wide variety of exercise classes around town. I also joined the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls, a support group for younger breast cancer survivors, who answered my immediate questions on a private online forum and would meet up for lunch every few weeks.

Cancer is really tough, but I didn’t have to go through my diagnosis and treatments alone. I had a lot of support and was encouraged to stay active. Now, two years later and cancer free, I continue to exercise and stay fit.



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