Rebecca lives her life with a healthy lifestyle in mind and says “it’s really essential to be healthy because you don’t know when cancer is going to knock on your door.” Rebecca ran her first Portland marathon in October, 2009. She intended to alternate – run a mile, then walk a mile for all 26 miles. With grit and determination pulsing through her veins, she ended up running the entire 26 miles. “I just couldn’t stop!” she said, still in disbelief.
Following that accomplishment, she set out with a new goal for 2010…to run a half marathon or full marathon every month. While fighting cancer, she completed one marathon, nine half marathons, two major biking events, and walked 60 miles during Susan G Komen’s 3-day event in Seattle. Staying active and living a healthy lifestyle has helped Rebecca through her journey and in so many other ways.
While explaining the connection between a healthy lifestyle and being diagnosed with cancer, she puts it like this: “A friend told me once—‘most of us have saving accounts where we put money in and save up for a rainy day. Well, you also have a health savings account and you are in the best shape of your life [so your savings is full], but right now, while going through this cancer, you’re going to have to draw on this account. You built this up and this is your rainy day.’ It’s in your best interest to be the best that you can be so when that rainy day does come, you can draw on that health account—that will help support you and allow for better outcomes.”
Rebecca advises others to set goals for themselves. Emphasizing what helped her, Rebecca said, “having a goal really encouraged me to not lay down and let cancer take me—don’t ever give up, do what you love doing. You’re the CEO of you”. With that mindset, Rebecca set a goal to get back into a fitness routine after her double mastectomy and three weeks later, she went to a SPIN (indoor cycling) class!
“I’m stronger than I thought I was,” Rebecca said proudly.
Rebecca’s journey started rather different than most. She says, “right before my bilateral mastectomy, I was part of a bike cyclist group who always met in the park. One time, we all got there and saw all these women dressed in pink. I was very much an introvert before cancer and an extrovert after. At the time, my husband says ‘I think you need to go talk to those ladies’. I agreed so I walked up to them and said, ‘are you doing something for breast cancer?’ And they said ‘yes, we’re walking 60 miles and raising money for Susan G Komen!’ I responded saying ‘thank you for what you’re doing, I have my surgery on Monday.’ Afterwards, I connected with those ladies and joined their team. I began walking all 60 miles with them at the start of my chemo.”
Even before her diagnosis, Rebecca followed her passion for advocacy around breast cancer research and became deeply involved with Komen.
“There’s various forms of advocacy,” Rebecca says. “There’s legislation, meeting with our representatives to share what’s going on, working with scientists to give a patient perspective, and peer to peer mentorship to help those recently diagnosed. There’s so many avenues to get involved and I feel Komen provides a lot of opportunities for you to give back.”
Rebecca encourages individuals to “get involved” in some way. She says “there’s been a big shift in Komen the past 9 years—“it’s not about wearing pink anymore, that doesn’t cure breast cancer. It’s about looking at the research and listening to fighters, survivors, and researchers”.