One of the things I loved about running track was how all different athletes come together to compete on one team. Each track event is so unique and I always had such respect for the other events that I know I had no clue how to do like the pole vault, high jump, triple jump and throws. I also loved how the sport incorporates all body types: throwers, jumpers, sprinters and distance runners. During a meet, you all cheer each other on which trust me made a huge difference on the many laps I ran around the track. And these are just some of the many reasons I love track and field.
All this is coming to mind as the US hosts the World Track and Field Championships for the first time. It also reminds me how different doctors worked together to help me battle this cancer and deliver a healthy baby. They all worked together to ensure my safety and the safety of the baby and I was and am so grateful for the support they gave me.
My treatment team consisted of my obstetrician, maternal fetal medicine (high risk obs), an oncologist and breast surgeon. I started experiencing some shooting pain in my breasts and then felt a lump a few days before a scheduled ob checkup on the baby. Thankfully I was seeing my favorite doctor in the practice who from that appointment on, has helped me every step of the way during this process. I could tell right away it was serious even though I was also in denial that this could be happening. She helped me get in to see an oncologist and breast surgeon quickly and I was able to start chemo two weeks after this visit.
Although I needed a lot of non-stress tests and ultrasounds at the end of my pregnancy, the maternal fetal medicine doctors as well as the doctors in my regular practice and oncologist remained on the same page about when I could deliver the baby in relation to my chemo treatments. Even with a high heart rate that I think was just the result of a very active boy (he still kicks his legs like crazy when he’s in a chair or on the changing table), everything stayed on track for an induction at 38 weeks.
It’s like when you’re planning your races in the track season. You discuss what distances make sense and focus on peaking for the championship events at the end of the season. You set your goal on the last race and monitor your health and times up until that meet to figure out if you should be running shorter or longer races to help you peak at the right time.
When there was concern about Bryce’s heart I had to meet with a pediatric cardiologist to ensure what came up on an ultrasound was normal and thankfully it was. It’s like when you develop some pain during the track season and meet with the trainer to either get treatment or exercises to heal the injury.
And speaking of injuries, they can pop up during the season and this may require some rest and time off. In April I developed a neutropenic fever and ended up in the ER for two days. While I had to delay my chemo a week, the rest along with medicine helped me feel and get better. I had to sit out xc and track seasons in order to let my stress fractures fully heal. It’s frustrating to have to take the time away but it’s what you know you need to do to get better, much like my short but annoying hospital stay.
So just as all the athletes and coaches on a track team work separately but together for the same cause, placing as high as possible to score the best for the team, my medical team worked separately but together to ensure my health and the health of my baby during this process.
With both my coaches and my treatment team I had to trust that what was planned was best for me even if I wasn’t comfortable with the distance or the treatment. In my final seasons of indoor and outdoor track I ended with NJAC titles in the 5k and 10k and personal bests in both distances as well as an indoor pb in the 3k. We also won team NJAC titles in indoor and outdoor track, both men and women. With my treatment team I ended with a healthy baby and no malignancies found following surgery. It’s amazing how it can all come together much like the work of these amazing athletes on the track and field.
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