By Emma Trehy
Running through breast cancer.
October 2019, Breast Cancer Awareness month and I was in the final weeks of training for
the upcoming Melbourne Marathon Festival when I noticed something unusual during a
An avid runner, I trained regularly with Rejoov Runners, was a parkrun Event Director and Achilles Guide for vision impaired runners and loved taking part in running events both in Australia and overseas. I was also over the moon as I had just been offered the opportunity to coach beginner runners with Boobs on the Run. Running was a huge part of my life, it gave me so much joy & allowed me to explore so many new and beautiful places.
My diagnosis a few weeks later floored me - stage 2 triple positive breast cancer. Thankfully I had found it at an early stage but its aggressive nature would still mean a challenging path of treatment lay ahead involving chemotherapy, radiotherapy & surgery.
So many things run through your head when you are faced with a cancer diagnosis - Will I survive? How will I & my family cope with treatment? Will I lose my hair? And for me, up there with the big questions was, Will I still be able to run?
The running community is an incredible one and the wonderful Nicole Bunyon (founder of Running Mums Australia) put me in touch with some breast cancer survivors who were also fellow runners who were incredibly kind and gave me some invaluable support and advice. Most importantly, they highlighted that continuing to run was absolutely possible.
The first few days and weeks after diagnosis are a whirlwind, it feels like you've stepped onto a roller coaster and can't get off, so you just need to hold on tight for the ride. I was blessed in having a treating specialist who was not only a very well-regarded Oncologist but also a runner. The one constant for me during this period was running, be it parkrun at Kamay, Rejoov training, social runs with friends or solo time on the trails which kept my worries in check and a smile on my face.
No-one can quite describe the side effects of chemotherapy nor predict the exact combination a patient will experience, but for me it was best described as the worst combination of jet lag and a hangover you can imagine. The first few days after treatment were generally okay for me but then the wave of exhaustion would hit for a week and I had little appetite as I lost both my sense of taste and smell, which impacted my energy levels further. This is where Revvies came in.
I had discovered Revvies in 2018 before the inaugural London Landmarks Half Marathon where they helped me achieve my Half Marathon PB. They were a staple in my race running kit ever since and I regularly used them for longer runs. I realised the energy kick they provided may be just what I needed to help fight the fatigue created by treatment and get me up and out running on those mornings which were a particular challenge.
Some days I could only run a kilometre, other days many more in the company of fantastic running buddies and the tougher ones were punctuated by regular walking breaks, but I was running and that really was all that mattered. I truly was #poweredbyrevvies. Running helped me immensely both with fighting fatigue and dealing with some of the other physical side effects, in addition to the usual positive impact on my mental state.
With the exception of two short periods where I was directed by my treatment team not to run post surgery, I continued to run regularly throughout each stage of my treatment. It was my happy place where I felt free and somewhat in control when so much else was so unpredictable and at some points pretty scary. I marked the one year anniversary of my diagnosis with a solo Half Marathon along the coast raising funds for the amazing Camp Quality who provide wonderful support for children & families impacted by cancer.
My treatment journey spanned 15 months and 2,319 km run/wobbled/enjoyed in my beloved running shoes. I am so damn grateful to be in remission now, running and coaching more than ever, with the upcoming Coastal Classic 30km & Tarawera 21km in my sights. The whole crazy ride has taught me that you truly can find silver linings in any situation and that the incredible running community is one I want to be fully immersed in for a very long time to come.
Emma coaches at Boobs on the Run and is currently raising funds for NBCF and Camp Quality for her upcoming races. If you would like to help out please see the links below.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) is Australia’s leading national body funding game-changing breast cancer research with money raised entirely by the Australian public. 1 in 7 Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and research really is the best way to prevent deaths, and improve how breast cancer is diagnosed, managed and treated. Click here To Donate
Camp Quality’s services and programs are created specifically to support children aged up to 15 years, who are dealing with their own cancer diagnosis, or the diagnosis of someone they love, like a brother, sister, mum, dad or carer. Camp Quality provides kids, their siblings and parents, with fun experiences, education, specialised cancer care, counselling and a supportive community; in-hospital, online, at school and away from it all on camps and at our retreats. Click here To Donate
Boobs on the Run is a women’s only run community connecting women across all walks of life. They coach from beginners to wherever they want to go in their running journey. Their vision is to get women moving and raise much needed funds for breast cancer research and we annually support the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Mother’s Day Classic as well as a number of local cancer charities. @boobsontherun
Revvies are very proud to have Emma as our ambassdor.