Discovering my 'new normal' after breast cancer diagnosis at 34.

16 July 2011

Media: Brisbane Running Festival

This is from the 'Brisbane Running Festival' website:

Your inspiration Inspired to run because "I want to stay alive"
Distance Brisbane 10km Fun Run
Name Tish Kirkland - (Support Tish as a Hero on EverydayHero and help raise funds for Cancer research)
Where do you reside Milton, Queensland
Favourite Food Norwegian "Gjetost" goat's cheese
Greatest Achievement Outside of fitness: conquering breast cancer (or more accurately: conquering chemotherapy). Fitness-related: running 5km without stopping!
How far have you come since your diagnosis? That's a difficult question. Since diagnosis in January 2009, it's been a huge roller-coaster: physically, mentally, financially and emotionally. It was a rough ride for the first 10 months and continues to be a steady but challenging one to this day. I started running only 3 months ago (March 2011) to train for the 4.5km Brisbane Mother's Day Classic and two weeks after that I ran 5km at the Rotary Fun Run at UQ. Dealing with the side effects of ongoing treatment is an uphill battle.

I find that I like to use any (and all) energy I have to run, but that might be followed by a 1-hour nap to recover. I run so that I can stay within my BMI, which means my chances of cancer returning are reduced but also so that if it does return, I can fight it with all I've got.
Any tips for those competing Do a few practice runs of the circuit. Train with a couple of friends and then run with them on the day. You'll know your pace and it's nice to run with others.
Do you have any advice to other cancer survivors out there? I don't think cancer survivors need any advice from me - they know they are awesome. But if you've just been diagnosed or are going through treatment: go for a walk every day. Even 10 minutes, which was a true struggle for me (Heussler Terrace!) helped in the long run. I would be so exhausted after a walk and might sleep for hours afterwards but it really helped me get better. And if you've had surgery: do the homework stretches your physio gives you. It's a drag at the time but again, it pays off. I think the worst thing about cancer is the fear of the unknown. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

The major beneficiary this year; Cancer Council, has a hotline - use it! (ph. 13 11 20) I had a hard time sorting out what the different organisations were, so I've since listed a "who's who" of cancer-related resources on my website. And for friends and family of survivors - be patient. When the intense treatment finishes that is just the beginning of the patient's struggle back to normality.
What has inspired you to participate in Brisbane Running Festival? My body has been through the wringer with cancer, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and now hormonal treatment. Now it's time to treat it with some respect and give it a good chance of getting back to normal - and hopefully beyond my previous 'normal' to an even better condition. They call life post-cancer your "new normal". It does change your life; I was never a runner and now I run regularly.

I was forging a career and I suddenly had to take time out of that. I was hoping to start a family and I had to put those plans on hold. My "new normal" is definitely a new life. Part of this has been the evolution of my own business, Hatiheri - headwear and accessories for hair loss. I can still only work part time, and the challenge of running my own small "cottage industry" is perfect for me
Anything else you want others to know? & And I am happy to report that I can now RUN up Heussler Terrace when 24 months ago I could barely walk up it. I think about that every time I struggle up the hill.

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