What Running The Divas Race Means To Me
I have always loved running, even since I was a little kid. I took a break to be a stay-at-home mom to my three beautiful children for a “few” years. I then returned to running as a way to get back into shape after three kids in four years and as a mommy break!
In 2012, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Five years later she was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer in her bones. I had always done the fun colour runs but I wanted to do a run with more meaning, so I signed up for my first Divas 5km run on June 11, 2017 in support of my mother-in-law. At this point, I didn’t know anything about Rethink Breast Cancer, just that it was an organization that helped women with breast cancer.
On May 31, 2017, I discovered a lump in my left breast, and although I was not too concerned I still mentioned it to my family doctor, who arranged my first mammogram. It was scheduled for the day after my first Divas run. From this point, I had a mammogram, ultrasound and a biopsy all within a week. A couple of weeks later, I received those three words no one should ever have to hear “You have cancer”. Yes, my life just got flipped upside down. How is this even possible? I am only 37 and in the best shape I have ever been in. How am I going to take care of my three children? How is my husband going to deal with his mom and wife both having breast cancer? The questions came piling on at incredible speed, but there was no time to answer them. It was time to prepare for surgery ASAP and then treatment. I completed 16 rounds of chemotherapy followed by 30 rounds of radiation, completing my active treatment on March 23, 2018.
After my diagnosis, I connected with Rethink, where I was fortunate to be a participant on a life-changing retreat called Stretch Heal Grow, and also meet some of the most amazing and supportive young women all fighting this same disease. Cancer was not going to stop me so I signed up for my second Divas Run. This time I was running for me and to prove that cancer wasn’t going to knock me down. On June 11th, 2018 I ran my first 5km post-cancer treatment, still with very little hair and lots of extra steroid weight, but with my amazing and supportive brother, decked out in a cute little pink tutu. I was determined to run this race no matter how slow (let’s just say it was my slowest 5K ever), but the feeling when I crossed the finish line and gave my brother a hug was not like any other race I had ever run. It was a feeling of “triumph”. I WIN and cancer LOSES!!!
So this year I am signed up for my third Divas 5km race and I am feeling better and stronger than I have felt in a long time. I am back to work full time, back to living life to the fullest, and most importantly a breast cancer SURVIVOR. Running for me now is a way to relieve the stress and worry that is always there after a cancer diagnosis, and to feel healthy and strong. This year’s race will mark the two year anniversary since being diagnosed with breast cancer. I know my journey is far from over but I also know I will always have the feeling of TRIUMPH every time I cross the finish line, whichever finish line it might be. Cheryl Dustin
Join Team Rethink at the Divas Run on June 9, on Toronto Island. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or you’ll be walking the 5km, what really matters is that you’re part of a community coming together to change the lives of those affected by breast cancer. Use code RETHINK for $10 off! $5 of each code used, as well as 100% of the fundraising dollars, will come back to support Rethink’s mission.