A week of Jeannine’s second Spartan race, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the next year, Jeannine would undergo surgeries, chemo and radiation. A few months after treatment ended, in 2017, Jeannine competed in her third race. In 2018, she had 2 reconstructive surgeries and was back to running 3 weeks before the Spartan Fenway event. She is slated to compete in the Spartan Fenway Park event in November 2019.
Spartan is the world’s largest obstacle course race (OCR) and endurance brand and Jeannine is a Spartan 4x over – 2 of which she competed in after her diagnosis!
1. When I discovered about my condition
In November of 2016 I had a mammogram, and as a result, found the breast cancer. I had just completed my second Spartan race at Fenway Park and was finishing a year of more road races then I’ve ever ran in a year. I had a double mastectomy and have had multiple surgeries for implants and reconstruction. (7) I also had 16 weeks of chemo and 28 radiation treatments in 2017. I finished radiation at the end of August and did Spartan Fenway that November.
2. My fitness routine
I have a running club (Emerald Running Club). We go to a local, weekly, free and timed 5k on Wednesday nights, called the D5k. I run a couple times of week for a few miles. I also go to the 5am Title Boxing Club (Danvers) classes. I lift weights at Title, and I have a pull up bar, an ab wheel, and strength bands at home that I work on for Spartan races. Currently I am training for a local race series, and it’s going to be my big challenge for the year. In April it’s a 7 miler and a 10 miler in June. The rest of the races in the series I can do, and have done before, but the 7 and 10 will be a real challenge for me, and I can’t wait to conquer them. Also, for a Spartan challenge, one of my good friends and I are doing the Boston Sprint on May 11th, and then in November we have a larger team for the Spartan Fenway. My short-range goal for Spartan is to do one in Colorado with my brother, and my long range goal is to do the longer Spartan races and achieve a Trifecta. Also, in warmer temps I paddleboard, which is an amazing body and core workout.
3. My diet pattern
I eat eggs with peanut butter and fruit in the morning. Lunch and dinner is protein (tuna, chicken, turkey or beef) with lots and lots of veggies. I drink one iced coffee in the morning, and water the rest of the day. I’m really hitting the food and workouts hard, to work off the 30 lbs. I gained in chemo! I don’t call this a diet, it’s really my lifestyle. I’m an under-eater and always have been, so I work hard to make sure I get all the right nutrients to power me through my workouts and my day. I don’t really do cheats, but I do happily accept a beer after a race. As a rule I don’t eat anything over 5% sodium content, and rarely eat something boxed or packaged. I stick to real food, 3 meals a day, and lots of water. I am the weakest in the water drinking, but I work on it always, and always feel better the more water I drink.
4. How fitness helped me grow out of this disease
In 2016, my challenge for the year was to run more (paid) road races than I ever had before in a calendar year. I ran the weekly free 5k, and also did 36 road races that were 5k’s, 10k’s, Falmouth 7 miler, 5 milers and a 4 miler and was going boxing 4x a week. This put me in amazing shape! So when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was really in the best shape to fight this with everything I had. I never stopped working out. During the 16 weeks of chemo I did 16 5k’s. I walked a lot also. After each surgery I do have to hold off on boxing, but as soon as I have the green light I am right back there at 5am. In the off times I do walk a lot. During the month of radiation, I did keep running and even did a 10k. Halfway through the 10k I thought, what am I doing out here? Then I saw my Dad there cheering me on, and it gave me the boost I needed to push through and finish strong. The strength training really helps with getting my range of motion back, and my overall arm strength. This year, a month after surgery, I was on vacation and running a 5k. No breaks! On April 16th I did the BAA 5k as part of Marathon weekend, and took 5 minutes off my 5k time. I still have 9 minutes to shave off to get to my faster time, and I can’t wait to hit that number.
Having the support of my running club, the local D5k, and Title Boxing have been tremendous. Running, boxing, and training for Spartan kept me moving forward, and feeling good. Our running club logo is a frog, because frogs only move forward, never backwards. Eating healthy is key. Working out is key. It always made me feel better to keep active. Right now, training for the longer races and the upcoming Spartan, is tough as I just had a surgery on Feb 14th. When I feel like I’m struggling I remember all those days in the hospital, when I wanted to be outside and active with everyone else, and I keep going. I do this for me, but I also do this for others. You CAN do it, I did it, and I want them to know, that it gets better, but don’t stop moving. If I can motivate and help one person through their own cancer journey or struggle, then it’s worth it.