Tackling Cancer with Silent Sports
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Tackling Cancer with Silent Sports
By Eve Graves
Sarah Hugus, a 28-year-old avid silent sports enthusiast, had a life-changing experience last August when her second child, Oskar, arrived six-and-a-half weeks early. Upon delivery, a rare form of cancer called Choriocarcinoma was found in her placenta.
Silent Sports Pre-Disease
Prior to her diagnosis, Sarah had no symptoms and was Nordic skiing and running through her pregnancy. Hugus credits her mom, Ann Adams Miller, for getting her shifted from a high school gymnastics athlete to runner. Her elite silent sports hubby, Ben, is responsible for her Nordic skiing bug.
Hugus’s path began in Wausau, WI. Her move to Marquette, MI, to attend Northern Michigan University, is where she met Ben. The pair navigated their way to Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Quito, Ecuador, to teach prior to making their journey to Duluth.
When asked what her favorite silent sport was, Hugus said, “I love both running and Nordic skiing for different reasons. I definitely love the accessibility of running and I am able to do it a lot more, especially now with two kids under 3, I can push them in the stroller and take them with me. And I love the high you get from running and how good you feel when you’re finished. Also, Nordic skiing because it’s such a wonderful way to be out in the beautiful white woods in the winter. Also, it’s such a great workout and I always feel like I worked really hard. I also love social running. I love running with my mom and other friends or running buddies because it’s such a great way to kill two birds with one stone and catch up at the same time.”
Hugus was fortunate to participate in international events while overseas. The Midnight Marathon in Bangkok, Thailand, a hot and sweaty half in Sri Lanka, and a relay up the mountains in Northern Italy were all part of her repertoire.
Immediately after her second child’s birth, Sarah began four months of treatment in an attempt to defeat what had invaded her once-healthy body. She had to endure three cycles of “mild” chemo, and then four more cycles of an intensive five-drug regime of more chemo. Oskar had to be monitored weekly, and thankfully remains cancer free.
Sarah was able to exercise during her chemo and had this to say about it: “Running in general really truly was a constant for me as I was experiencing such a roller-coaster of events in my life. I skied quite a few times, too, and it felt like I was redeeming myself for what my body was going through. The other thing I would tell myself constantly is that I was, ‘Sweating out the nasty chemo toxins.’ This was enough to get me going most days. The hardest part of the cancer was craving and grieving the normalcy of having a new baby in a normal situation, and running and exercise helped me maintain some of that normalcy throughout the 4-month period.”
Treatments were a total success. Oskar is also out of the danger time frame. Sarah will continue getting monthly blood draws for the time being.
Sarah ran a couple of 5k races during her treatment. Post-treatment, she participated in the Stride, Ride, Glide Triathlon, 5k run, 5k bike, and 5k ski, which your author puts on. She was thrilled, stating, “This is the first race I’ve done where I felt almost back to my normal self. My energy is finally back and I’m feeling like myself again.”
Our survivor says she has a whole new appreciation for all the benefits of silent sports. Sarah said getting out into nature to run and ski were beautiful constants during her treatment.
She also credits watching and helping her college boyfriend (now husband) endure and beat testicular cancer in the middle of his skiing career. She said, “He was definitely a role model for me to get through my situation. His positivity and ability to maintain some training and fitness through his cancer was definitely something that helped me through mine.”
Advice for Others
Sarah would like others to know that exercise is a great way to tackle the tough things that life throws at you. She said the best advice she received was to take it day by day, do what you can, and be kind to yourself. She also said that not thinking about the overall loss of her healthy self, but to take little positives for what they were, also helped.
With she has been through, Sarah says she has a new respect for her body, what it’s been through and, most of all, what it is capable of.
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