Running the First Five Kilometres ...
J e n n i f e r M c C r e a,

Jennifer with Team McCrea at the 2011 CIBC Run for the Cure.

I was approaching the 18-kilometre spirit hub of the Calgary Marathon half-marathon. Someone was holding up a sign that read: You are an inspiration. I was overcome with such intense emotion that I had to cover my face and run whilst I cried the happiest and proudest tears. I was three kilometres from the finish line and reaching a goal I never thought I could attain.

How far I have come in the past nine months as a runner is something I owe completely to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. A strong and devastating family history of breast and ovarian cancer led members of my family to be tested for the BRCA cancer gene mutation. In 2004, I agreed to be tested for the cancer gene mutation and got a positive result. From that point on, my doctors watched me closely and sent me for tests every year, such as mammograms, breast MRIs and ultrasounds.

In May 2011, my breast MRI came back different, showing a little line just above my left nipple. It wasnt there the last time. A little line that needed to be investigated. A little line that could be nothing. Or it could be breast cancer. I was sent for an MRI-guided biopsy. On July 18, with my children at my doctors office, my doctor told me, It appears that you have early stage breast cancer. She hugged me and all I could say was Wow.

Our oldest son Memphis, age two-and-a-half at the time, was playing with toys on the floor and came over to me and asked: Mommy, do you want to play dinosaurs with me? I looked at him and cried. I looked over at our youngest son Logan, eight months old at the time. I wondered if I was going to make it to see their next birthdays. I wondered if I would get to live to see them grow up.

I met with a surgeon in Calgary, an amazing doctor named Dr. Rene Lafreniere, who advised me and agreed with my already-made decision to go forward with a bilateral mastectomy. A few days after meeting with my surgeon, I thought to myself: I have to do the CIBC Run for the Cure. Whether I walk or run, I have to do this event.

After my surgery on August 11, my friends and family rallied around me and joined TEAM McCREA. Every person who signed up and every dollar that we raised gave me support and helped me in my recovery. At the start of my recovery, I could barely move my arms from my armpits let alone lift my children, or a jug of milk.

I have never been a runner. I have never liked to run. I always wanted to learn but never did. I was fit but not a runner. I would always get a cramp in my side four minutes into a run, give up and start walking. Once I got clearance from my doctors to train, I realized I had a team of 20 people coming out to Calgary to join me for the CIBC Run for the Cure, and that I better figure out how to run with them.

Jennifer (right) with her son Logan and friend Jen (left) at the finish line of the 2011 CIBC Run for the Cure.

I was grateful to be alive. I was declared cancer free. I was going to run like there was no tomorrow. On Sunday, October 2, thats what I did.

For the first time in my life, I ran five kilometres. With my team all dressed in pink, we did the CIBC Run for the Cure. When I crossed the finish line, I was a wet mess of tears. Some of my teammates were there ahead of me and they embraced me. I waited for my rock, my husband of 10 years, Jim, and our sons to cross the finish line and it was one of the most empowering moments of my life. I will never forget it.

After the run, my one friend who is runner asked me if wanted to do a half marathon with her. I said absolutely and I was hooked on running. We set some goals for running in 2012 which included a half-marathon in May.

I lived to see our oldest son turn three in September and I lived to see our baby turn one at the end of October. I was declared cancer free in August. My breast cancer was diagnosed and caught in the very earliest stages of breast cancer due to the intense screening I received because of my BRCA cancer gene mutation. I did not have to go for chemo or radiation; however, my doctors put me on tamoxifen for five years.

Tamoxifen has not been my best friend in the early months. I started the drug in December of last year and it caused fatigue. Thats not a good thing for me, considering I was training to run a half marathon. It was debilitating. I could barely get off the couch to take care of my children let alone get to the gym to run on the treadmill. But I fought through it, one day at a time. Sometimes one hour at a time. After a month my fatigue lifted and then came back, and then went away again. I continued to do my best with running and focusing on my goal of the half-marathon at the end of May.

I knew I could do it, I told myself that cancer had only made me stronger. And somehow on May 27, with a smile on my face and my pink ribbon gloves on, I crossed the finish line of the Calgary Marathon half-marathon. I never thought it would be possible before doing the CIBC Run for the Cure last year.

I am thankful for my life. Every day is a gift. I am living proof that an early diagnosis can dramatically change a breast cancer diagnosis outcome. And I remember waking up from my bilateral mastectomy and seeing my husband smiling at me as I said to him: Remind me, that after today I will not let this cancer take one more day from me again. It hasnt. It wont.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure will be held in towns and cities across Canada on Sunday, September 30. For more information or to find a location near you visit

Archived Feature Pages

Spring 2012 Vol. 3 No. 1   Reflection & Inspirations  Dedicated to Lisa and Kim
Fall 2010 Vol.2 No.4   Victoria Falls and the Beauty of Contradictions  Terri Wingham
Summer 2011 Vol.2 No. 3   Miracle Galaxy - A Self Healing Story   Della Burford
Spring 2011 Vol.2 No. 2   Be Cancer Fabulous  Written for Sylvia Soo by Titilope Sonuga
Winter 2011 Vol.2 No.1   The New Frontier: The Young Survivors Conference  Terri Wingham
Fall 2010 Vol.1 No.4   Walk of Hope  Diane MacCormack
Summer 2010 Vol.1 No. 3   Help through the Unknown  Desa Chipman
Spring 2010 Vol.1 No. 2   2010 Olympic Torchbearer #033  Judy Caldwell, Founder, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
Winter 2010 Volume 01 No.1   Not Alone  Margie Ostroff
Fall 2009 Vol. 10 No. 4   Shifting Gears  Candice Work
Summer 2009 Vol.10 No.3   The Vogalonga in Venice Italy  Jenny, Carol and Jane
Spring 2009 Vol.10 No. 2   10 years with Abreast in the West  Sandy Poggemiller
Winter 2009 Vol.10 No.1   Haiti, A World Away  Colleen Yrjana
Fall 2008 Vol. 9 No. 4   The Other C-Word  Kate Noble
Summer 2008 Vol.9 No.3   Screening, Investigation & Care  Profile by Sandy Poggemiller
Spring 2008 Vol.9 No.2   12 Women  Sandy Poggemiller
Winter 2008 Vol.9 No.1   Approaching 60 Years, A Breast Cancer Survivor  Sandy Poggemiller
Fall 2007 Vol. 8 No. 4   A Runner with a Heart  Sandy Poggemiller
Summer 2007 Vol.8 No.3   Lullaby  
Spring 2007 Vol. 8 No. 2   Managing Stress When You Have Breast Cancer  Karen Flood, PhD, RCC
Winter 2007 Vol. 8 No.1   An Anchor Point in Prince Rupert   Sandy Poggemiller
Fall 2006 Vol. 6 No. 4   Continuing the Life Quilt Legacy  Ann Massey and Janice Drohan
Summer 2006 Vol.7 No.3   The Magic of a Chance Encounter  Gail Konantz
Spring 2006 Vol. 7 No. 2   Amazon Heart Odyssey-Sri Lanka  By Lou Moreau and Lisa Underhill
Winter 2006 Vol. 7 No.1   A Surgeons View of Breast Cancer  Sandy Poggemiller
Fall 2005 Vol. 6 No. 4   HOPE  In memory of my Vicki
Summer 2005 Vol. 6 No. 3   Translational molecular breast cancer research at the BCCA  Dr. Samuel Aparicio BD BCH PhD MRCPath
Spring 2005 Vol. 6 No. 2   "ring...ring... Hello, your boobs are calling..."  Lisa Underhill, RN, MN
Winter 2005 Vol. 6 No. 1   The Power of Creativity  Lynne Hill
Fall 2004 Vol. 5 No. 4   'We Are Family'
The Young and the Breastless Conference a Huge Success
Gabriele Helms, diagnosed age 35 & Joanne Stephen, Research consultant, BC Cancer Agency
Summer 2004 Vol. 5 No. 3   Abreast In A Boat South Africa: Making Miracles Happen   Lou Moreau
Spring 2004 Vol.5 No. 2   The Young & the Breastless
A Networking Event for Young Women with Breast Cancer
Elise Partridge and Gabriele Helms
Winter 2004 Vol. 5 No.1   An Advocates Perspective  Laurene Clark, Patient Advocate
Fall 2003 Vol.4 No.4   Breast Re con struc tion!  Gilly Heaps, B.Ed. M.A. (Counselling Psych)
Summer 2003 Vol.4 No.3   A Dream Come True  Peggy Robertson
Spring 2003 Vol.4 No.2   Titz 'n Glitz, Whitehorse,Yukon  Joyce Majiski
Winter 2003 Vol.4. No.1   'The End of a Beginning'  Lynn Macdonald
Fall 2002 Vol.3 No.4   A Pot Full of Healing  Mary Tremayne
Summer 2002 Vol.3 No.3   Quilting Life Back Together  Rosemary Shandler
Spring 2002 Vol.3 No.2   Visual Voices  Sharon Tilton Urdahl
Winter 2002 Vol.3. No.1   Daffodils for Unity  Della Wilson
Fall 2001 Vol.2 No.4   River of Life  Ava P. Christl
Summer 2001 Vol.2 No.3   Living Well with Cancer   Breast Cancer Resource Fair
Spring 2001 Vol.2 No.2   Time to toot our horn!
Initiatives of the Alliance for Breast Cancer Information & Support
Winter 2001 Vol.2 No.1   Baring Breasts   Ginny Mitchell
Fall 2000 Vol.1 No.4   Best Friends through it all!  
Summer 2000 Vol.1 No.3   Fatigue Ranked #1 Complaint   Suzanne C. Malfair Taylor, BSc (Pharm), PharmD, BCPS
Spring 2000 Vol.1 No.2   Abreast in Nepal: Paddlers Trekking   Gail Konantz
Winter 2000 Vol.1 No.1   The Role of Silicone Breast Implants in Breast Reconstruction  Dr. Peter Lennox, Plastic Surgeon, Clinical Instructor

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