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April 6th, 2010
06:15 PM ET

The Challenge: Reflections on progress

By Angie Brouhard
CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge Participant

There are certain times of the year that I tend to reflect on the past and think about the future. These days include my birthday, the first day of the school year and, of course, New Year’s Day. This year, I have a new reflection day. The day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My journey with breast cancer began last April after a routine mammogram showed a suspicious area.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/06/angie.april.jpg caption="Angie is making great progress as she trains for the triathlon."]

It is hard to believe that it has been a year already. I have a lot to reflect on when I look back over the past year. I could think about the fear and uncertainty my family and I felt. I could contemplate the struggle my husband and I went through making decisions – decisions that you never think you should have to make. I could remember the pain from the surgery and the sickness from the chemotherapy. I could consider my feelings of awkwardness when grocery shopping with a ball cap covering my baldness.

I am a pretty positive person. I have a fairly optimistic view of life, so as I think about the past year, I don’t dwell on those feelings of fear, pain, and awkwardness. Instead, I thankfully remember all those friends and coworkers who brought my family dinner. I think about the many prayers offered on my behalf. I remember the cards and gifts people sent – even perfect strangers who heard about my diagnosis from a friend. I recall my husband taking care of my every need. I remember talking with other cancer survivors, sharing stories of encouragement. I consider the trips I took last summer – one family trip to Kentucky just before the chemo began, and another to our favorite Tennessee lake in between treatments – the lake we visited every year when I was growing up.

I can say without a doubt that I am in much better shape than I was a year ago before my diagnosis! Since the beginning of my training in January, I have made remarkable progress physically. I can run 6 miles, bike 20 miles and swim 1,400 yards. I have toned my body, shed a few pounds, and made healthy food choices. I have encouraged family and friends to join me in this fit lifestyle. My friend meets me at the local YMCA three mornings a week to swim. Another friend jogs with me, and my husband bikes alongside me. I hope I can encourage others to move toward a healthier lifestyle, too. Call a friend to meet you to walk a couple of times a week. Ask your spouse or your son or daughter to ride bikes with you. Having a partner in your physical fitness routine will keep you motivated and accountable! You can’t shut off the alarm and skip your workout if you know someone is waiting for you!

I am looking forward to this next year and can’t wait to see what it brings! You don’t have to wait until a birthday, New Year’s, or a significant life event to improve yourself mentally and physically. You can start today!

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Rich Cary

    You're an inspiration to us all Angie!

    April 8, 2010 at 06:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. lee

    Go Angie! We're proud of you. Keep up the good work.

    April 8, 2010 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Gina

    Angie, you are an awesome parent, mentor, survivor and inspiration to us all in the Rockway community! We are rooting for you and love you! You are amazing!

    May 29, 2010 at 06:29 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.