by Alchemy 365 Member: Becky Lechner
This month marks nine years since my mom died following a two-year journey with ovarian cancer.
No one is ever ready to lose a parent, but my mom’s diagnosis and death came at a time when I needed her more than ever. She was diagnosed when my first son was just over a year old. She died a month shy of celebrating my second son’s first birthday.
That first year after her death was difficult. I threw myself into running as an outlet for my grief while balancing a young family and my career. On a whim, I signed up and trained for my first-ever sprint triathlon. On a brutally hot summer day, I swam, biked and ran. I remember feeling exhausted, emotionally spent and wanting to quit several times. But thinking back on what my mom went through – and how she would have been happy just to move without pain during those final months – pushed me through. I remember bursting into tears as I crossed the finish line, thinking of her while I was cheered on by my husband and two young sons.
Time has a way of healing and I was able to turn my grief into action. For the past 7 years, I’ve been the Communications Manager at the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA). MOCA is one the largest, non-profit funders of ovarian cancer research in the country. This is vital – because (listen up, ladies!) there is NO test for ovarian cancer. In fact, you can learn about the symptoms and risk factors here. MOCA has provided more than $8 million to ovarian cancer researchers focused on an early detection test, better treatments and a cure for the disease. We provide education, support to women and families and raise awareness of the disease throughout the state.
Losing a parent changes you, there’s no doubt of that. And it gives you gifts, in some odd ways. I think I’m more aware of the fragility of life and how I need to protect my health and that of my family’s.
I underwent genetic testing to see if I had an elevated risk of ovarian cancer (in fact, if you are a woman with a family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, take a look at this study). I try to eat healthy and am working to instill a love of whole, nutritious foods in my boys (or at least balance out their love of Takis!). And physical activity is still a big part of my life – although now I’ve traded in running for Alchemy classes (A20s are my favorites!) and weight training.
The Alchemy 365 community has been so welcoming and has been a big part of my fitness lift for the past year. I am always inspired and motivated at the classes and instructors – and I am amazed at their involvement in the community. MOCA is thrilled that Alchemy 365 is part of our major event: HOM Teal Strides for Ovarian Cancer. This is a 2k walk and 5k run, held in Edina’s Rosland Park on Saturday, Sept. 15. It’s MOCA’s largest fundraiser of the year and a day where our community comes together.
It’s become an annual event for my family. My 9 and 11-year-old boys now run the race in memory of their Nana. They may be young, but they feel empowered as they run, knowing they are making a difference. I know in my heart, that’s something my mom would be proud of.