How Running Helped Me Deal with My Breast Cancer Diagnosis

I wasn't about to sit around and let cancer break me.

How Running Helped Me Deal with My Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Photo: Chad Chisholm

I never would have imagined that nine months after a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, I would be running 13 miles on the rugged trails in Las Catalinas, Costa Rica, this summer.

I was a runner before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which had gone undetected in routine screenings and tests and was caught only after I discovered a lump myself. And I knew the only way to get through the emotional toll of the disease was to get back out there.

Spending my days dashing through that seaside town was a crucial part of my healing journey. Since my surgery left me with limited strength and mobility in my upper body, I relied on my lower body to build strength and gain confidence. After all, I wasn't about to sit around and let cancer break me. (

Katherine Han
Chad Chisholm

So I put one foot in front of the other — at first, walking when I was able to, then fast walking, jogging, and running. And it was during this month-long trip that my body's recovery finally caught up with my mental and emotional recovery.

When I'm running today — about 15 months after my diagnosis — I don't feel sick. I feel strong. When I'm running, I feel powerful. I feel that I can beat this. And even though that 13-mile journey was by far the longest run I've ever gone on, I wouldn't let myself give up. With everything I'd been through with my cancer, I knew I could do anything I set my mind to. (Keep reading: Women Are Turning to Exercise to Help Them Reclaim Their Bodies After Cancer)

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