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Last fall, Hastings Moms on the Run member Mandy Wessinger literally took each day step by step after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, she's cancer free and back running with her Moms on the Run team.
According to Christine Hitchcock, franchise owner of Hastings Moms on the Run, Mandy has more grit than anyone she knows. "She puts her mind to something and she will put in the work and accomplish what she set out for. She is also so supportive of others and is always cheering others on. If a fellow MOTR is training for a longer distance, she will run by her side to support her all the way."
Listen in on our conversation with Mandy and learn why she's our inspiring member of the month.
Q: How long have you been part of Moms on the Run?
A: I’ve been a member of MOTR for seven years this upcoming fall, when my youngest was probably 9 months old.
Q: How did you get involved?
A: A friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of a circle of brightly colored running shoes and asked if anyone needed an excuse to buy a new pair of cute shoes. I guess that was all I needed to get out of my comfort zone and away from my three young children to look for exercise accountability and the challenge of meeting women.
Q: Were you a runner before Moms on the Run or new to running?
A: I had dabbled with the idea of running before, but never really done it before joining MOTR.
Q: We were told you received a devastating diagnosis of breast cancer last fall. Can you share a little about that and how that impacted you and your family?
A: Yes, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in October after my annual mammogram. I had scheduled a 2D mammogram on myChart just because it was easy and wasn’t sure what the other option was, but when I got there they convinced me to have the 3D scan, which was new to our hospital. Over and over again, I had doctors/radiologist tell me that they were surprised that the radiologist who read the first scan even caught it. I will be honest, I suck at doing self-breast exams, but I am very committed to any and all annual appointments/screens and I encourage anyone who is 40 years old or has a family history of BC to get screened annually! I actually had a huge sense of peace through the entire journey other than when I was laying on the biopsy table. My husband, on the other hand, was a mess. We didn’t want to use the “C” word with the kids because there is always some kid out there that will say, “Oh my Grandma had cancer and she died,” so they pretty much just knew that I was having surgery and doctor’s appointments afterwards. My oldest (12) did find out when asked by a lady at church, so my husband had a discussion with him. Joshua said, “Don’t some people die from cancer?” My husband responded with “Yes,” to which Joshua quickly came back with, “But Mom is a fighter.” I’m glad my kids know me. I was really at peace during pretty much my whole journey. I attribute this to one, being covered in prayer by so many people, and two, the support and love of so many of my current and past MOTR teammates. My MOTR teammates set me up with a meal train for over a month, plus items that I never even would have thought of needing but made my recovery so much easier. After having a lumpectomy on Nov. 10, followed by 19 days of radiation, I can say that I am cancer free and just taking estrogen blocker pills to help ward off any potential recurrence.
Q: How do you think being physically active and fit has helped you in your cancer journey?
A: At the age of 43, I can truly say I was probably in the best shape of my life physically, mentally and spiritually and this played a huge role in how I responded to my cancer journey. I had been in good physical condition two years prior and then dropped down a little, but was so inspired by a teammate who was in her prime health and running year. Even while I was running at least three times a week I still felt sluggish compared to where I had been before. Feeling this and watching her pushed me to find something else to trigger my nutrition changes. MOTRvate28 and the nutrition class/challenges offered by Moms on the Run really helped me to try to reorganize my food intake. Little did I know that this and other exercise challenges would be preparing me to fight from top shape when I needed to the most for something other than passing someone right before the finish line. I feel that my recovery went much smoother and quicker because of the shape that I was in.
Q: Any words of advice or anything else you’d like to share?
A: Love on those teammates of yours because you might not even know how much it means to them. Also, one day you might be the recipient of that love and you need to know how to graciously accept it (not the reason to do it, but still a fact). Unfortunately, another MOTR teammate has recently started her journey with breast cancer, but I am so thankful to be able to pass on so many of the items that I was blessed with to help comfort her and encourage her any way that I can, even if it is just someone to sit by quietly and listen. These ladies have so many stories to tell — take time to get to know your teammates. We all have our own struggles, some that people never feel that they can share; let them know that is okay, but that you are there if ever they do.
Q: Please tell us a little about yourself (your family, job, hobbies, etc.).
A: I am a 44-year-old wife (Tony) and mother of 3 children (Joshua 12, Elizabeth 9 and Rebekah 7). I am a full-time product development microbiologist for Ecolab making sure I can do my part to help keep this world a cleaner, safer and healthier place. So let’s just say that I’ve been pretty busy with work this past year while trying to help with distance-learning when possible. Huge kudos goes out to Grandma for helping with that one too. Since having kids my active hobbies have decreased except for picking up running. But I love it when I get time to actually read an adult book and I enjoy, some days more than others, my quiet early morning dog walk to get my day started before chaos can even have a chance to start.