In May 2009, I was in my customers parking lot when I got the call, you have breast cancer! Shock, disbelief and denial turn into, “What do I do now?” It’s hard to describe the avalanche that follows. Phone calls, biopsies, breast surgeons, plastic surgeons, oncologists, research, new terminology, bi-lateral mastectomy, lymph nodes, evolving diagnosis, infections, chemotherapy, immune system, and the list goes on. That’s how my journey started.
Then in my initial appointment at Texas Oncology, I was given an information packet. Inside were several brochures, one of which was about the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls (PRC) a group for those diagnosed at 45 and younger and hosted by the Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC). After my surgeries and as my chemotherapy was starting, I went to my first monthly support luncheon. It was there that I learned so much. I found others who were going through or had been through a similar journey. It was a place where I could ask questions, get recommendations, understand others’ experiences, and most importantly, where I felt safe.
During a PRC luncheon, I learned about the BCRC’s newly diagnosed group. Even though I wasn’t much into group settings, I decided to give it a try. Again, I was around others on a similar journey, this time in a more intimate setting with the same people each week. At some point during this group, I learned about the Sustainable Food Centers (SFC) Cooking After Cancer class.
Once I was done with chemo, I decided to give the SFC class a try. Upon arrival, I see 2 of my fellow “newly diagnosed” group classmates and met another person who had been in a prior class. It was great to learn more about healthy cooking, in fact, several of the recipes remain on my favorites list.
Another experience from the newly diagnosed group was the introduction to Team Survivor. I’ll never forget the three ladies that came in to talk about exercise. They talked about how members do triathlons. What?!?! I have not exercised in years! I barely have enough energy to go to work every day and someone is suggesting a triathlon?! Well, I filed this information for later and about 6 months after chemo I decided to give Team Survivor a try. After all, for someone that didn’t like groups, I sure was getting a lot of value out of them.
Team Survivor offers free exercise classes to women cancer survivors. Without their help, I would not be where I am today having completed four triathlons and work out regularly! I also became an avid cyclist and have ridden in 6 Mamma Jamma Rides!
Why do I ride? To give back to the wonderful Mamma Jamma Ride beneficiaries that helped me during my cancer journey. Thank you Breast Cancer Resource Center for offering free patient navigation through your one-on-one guidance and support circles, Sustainable Food Center with your free cooking classes and Team Survivor for your free exercise program! I feel so fortunate to have these organizations that work collaboratively together to provide these amazing services to those affected by cancer.
Oh… and those 3 people I mentioned earlier. We still get together regularly and will be lifelong friends.
Please consider riding, volunteering or donating!
To join or donate to Team BCRC’s Mamma Jamma group, click here.
Offers free exercise programs to female cancer survivors. There is no cost to participate,
just go the website to sign up!
To join or donate to Team Survivor’s Mamma Jamma group click here.
Kristin McCollam is a breast cancer survivor, Mamma Jamma rider, team captain for Team Survivor, and board member for Mamma Jamma.