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October 8: Christine Feldman
Christine Feldman: Breast Cancer Survivor and Triathlete
Achievements: Christine Feldman has completed a marathon and five triathlons, despite two battles with breast cancer, only 60 percent lung capacity and 15 surgeries to repair her breast, shoulder and arm.
Christine Feldman Despite two battles with breast cancer, 15 surgeries and only 60 percent lung capacity, Christine Feldman has completed a marathon and five triathlons. She says, "Exercise is my refuge."
In 2002, Christine was training for a marathon to lose baby weight after her second pregnancy. At the time she was a healthy-34-year old with a two-year-old and an 11-month-old, not expecting at all how her life would suddenly change. While she was showering, she found a lump in her breast. Tests confirmed it as Stage II HER2-positive breast cancer, a more aggressive form. Christine had massive reconstruction surgery to repair her right shoulder, breast and arm. She also received chemotherapy and chose to wear her bald head with pride. She even used her creative energy as a career graphic designer to allow her children to finger paint the blank canvas of her scalp and used the photographs as thank-you cards to those her supported her through the illness.
As she was just beginning to see the light of day, she detected another lump in October 2005 on her scar tissue. A biopsy revealed her cancer had returned and she would need radiation. Complications due to the radiation caused a buildup of fluid in her lung, which caused her lung to collapse, reducing its capacity to 60 percent; however, this did not slow Christine down. Due to her rigorous exercise routine, her lung capacity has increased to 85 percent. Christine says, "I feel the healthiest when I am exercising ... it is when my body feels most alive."
Christine has been married for 15 years and has two children, ages nine and 11. She receives Herceptin treatment for her breast cancer every three weeks, and probably will for the rest of her life. Christine feels like she has reclaimed "her ignorance to her mortality" and values the transformation in identity she experienced when her kids saw her on race day as "Mommy the triathlete" instead of "Mommy the cancer patient."