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Just six months after my last surgery for breast cancer I completed a half marathon. I have been there...sick in bed, exhausted, in pain. But on the other end of this I can say, you can have a life again. If me sharing my story inspires someone to maybe try and sit up today, or know there is a light at the end of the tunnel; then it's worth it.

Running doesn't come easy to me, never has. But I knew if I could accomplish something I couldn't do before my diagnosis, then I could learn to trust my body again. I tried the normal training ways and it was hard. I felt my feet were made of lead and I was breathing through a straw. Devastating. A friend, who has run many marathons herself, told me to stop trying to train for distance. Train for time. Run for 20-30 min and walk when I needed to walk. This made life much easier for me. But still the long runs were difficult. I could NOT breathe. My husband told me athletes wear breathe right strips. I tried it. They are magical.

But the bone pain was debilitating from Arimidex. It was crippling. I tried Claritin and it helped! I still had some painful runs, but was able to push through them. The last obstacle was my fear. What if I fall? What if I can't finish? But I remembered feeling that way before chemo and the day of I was ready to face it. Day of the race, I was fully joy. It wasn't easy and the last three miles were a doozie! I won't lie. My husband met me at the finish line and we crossed holding hands, me crying my eyes out. All of that pain from the past year, I let go on that run.

This is YOUR life. And you only get one shot at it. Go out and live it. Run, walk, crawl… whatever. Do it! Laugh. Love. Take chances. DREAM BIG. You deserve your very best life and it’s right here waiting on you.

Ree Merrill
Los Angeles, CA

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