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How Biking Helped Me Through Treatment

This is Maria Boustead’s story in her words.

It was a normal weeknight. I was lying on the couch, half watching TV and half texting with my sister. I lazily scratched my armpit area – and felt something unusual. “I just found a small lump in my breast,” I texted her.

“It’s probably nothing,” she wrote back, “but see a doctor right away.”

“It’s probably nothing,” my doctor told me when I saw her a couple of days later, “but let’s do the imaging to be sure.”

After the mammogram and sonogram, I knew it was not nothing but something just by looking at the radiologist’s face. I’ll never forget that look, and what she said next: “There’s cause for concern.”

The lump that felt like nothing more than a little frozen pea turned out to be breast cancer.

After my lumpectomy and many tests, I learned that I would be spending the next six months or so going through chemotherapy and radiation.

Not only did the rigorous treatment feel like a surprise, the timing of it seemed incredibly unfair. I had just finished raising the first round of capital for my company, Po Campo, weeks earlier, which was not easy; in fact, it was probably the hardest and most daunting thing I had ever done. Rising to the challenge of putting myself out there, sharing my vision, and getting the funding for our next phase of growth made me feel strong, confident, and ready to take on the world. All I wanted to do was execute the plans that we had told investors about. Hearing about my treatment plan felt like a cruel joke, like I was being cut off at the knees just when I was standing my tallest.

Before I started treatment, I reached out to a friend who had gone through something similar for tips on managing treatment. Her advice? “Keep biking.”

To combat fatigue, you’re encouraged to stay active. I biked to work. I biked around Central Park. I even biked to some of my chemo infusions.

To combat loneliness, you’re encouraged to maintain your social relationships. COVID-19 of course already made this more difficult, but with group rides resuming, it was a great way to reconnect with people and still not have to share too much before I was ready.

And to combat sadness and depression, you’re encouraged to do the things you know make you happy, even if it just feels like you are going through the motions at first. My bike rides made me feel like me, a happy and capable me. I really needed that — and came to rely on it.

Now I’m on the other side, my hair is growing back, my energy has returned, and I feel pretty close to normal. Despite all my fears about what might happen, Po Campo is having another phenomenal year; we launched two product collections, expanded distribution, and our sales are on track to double. I’m really proud of that, and incredibly proud of and thankful to my team for stepping up to make it happen.

I never wanted to join the cancer club (who does?) but one silver lining for me has been refocusing on the things that make me feel my best. What’s that thing for you?

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.