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TRAINING WHILE GOING THROUGH CANCER TREATMENT

9/5/20 - BY JENN BESENTI - BLOG

In 2015 I was training for Coeur D Alene Ironman. It was Mid May and the race was set for mid June. I was in what I thought was the best shape of my life. I experienced tiredness, but thought it was just from training. I went out to do my last, really long ride before starting to taper and when I was halfway through, I had no energy or strength. At that point, I knew something was wrong. I had been having other issues for months, as well. I kept telling myself it was from training but on this day I just knew something was very wrong. My friend suggested I go visit my Doctor immediately. My Doctor performed Colonoscopy and a few days later I found out I had Rectal Cancer.

Within a week of discovering that I had Rectal Cancer, I started a 6 week long daily regimen of chemo and radiation. Needless to say, I was unable to compete in Ironman. However, I kept swimming and walking as much as possible during those 6 weeks. In the last 2 weeks, I was unable to do much due to the brutal radiation. I had a 2 month break to build my strength before having surgery to remove the tumor. During that time, I swam 2.4 miles across Coeur D Alene lake, walked a Marathon and did an Olympic distance triathlon. The day I had my surgery was the day I was supposed to do a 100 mile bike ride around the lake. Since I did not have the energy to bike 100 miles in 1 day due to my stay in the hospital, I split the ride into 3 days instead to make sure I could finish it, even though I wasn’t going to get my medal.

In September I had surgery to remove the tumor and was given a temporary Ileostomy bag. I was doing laps around the hospital on 2nd floor the next day and tracking it on my Garmin. The surgery was harder to recover from and I was only allowed to walk, so every day I would walk a little further.

 

In October there was an awards ceremony for the people who had completed the Marathon, swim and 100 mile bike ride. I found out they were still going to give me my medal and honorary mention for completing it. I was so excited even though I had not been able to compete in the Ironman that year. Instead, I performed all the distances separately in an event called the Iron Series! After I had my reversal surgery I. started 6 more months of Chemo. During that time, I walked several 5 and 10 k’s and 1 Half marathon.

 

I believe that training saved my life. I was so in tune with my body that I knew something was not right. I may not have gone to the doctor as soon, had I not been training. Also, I think the whole process would have been a lot tougher if I were not in the shape I was in. I finished treatment in May of 2016. That's almost exactly 1 year from diagnosis. In June of 2017, I completed the Coeur D Alene half Ironman! I have some pretty harsh side affects but I continue to do triathlons, individual swims, bike and run events, as well as hiking and strength training! My hope is that my story gives hope to anyone newly diagnosed!

 JENN BESENTI 25% DISCOUNT CODE: MERMAIDJENN 
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