Get out the door & stick with it.


Running Through Cancer

In March of 2014 I was diagnosed with Stage IIA breast cancer.  My first challenge was a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery followed by chemotherapy. The surgery didn’t bother me, but my biggest concern was my ability to run.

I’ve been a runner for years and had just completed my fifth Half Marathon in February (The Rose Bowl Half Marathon) and came in second in my age category. Less than two weeks later I found three lumps in my left breast!  Yikes!

BillieV RK Blog

After a biopsy confirmed my cancer diagnosis, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center scheduled my surgery for the end of March. My plastic surgeon gave me the bad news:  No running for six to eight weeks. And, I was scheduled to run in the Santa Anita 5K one week following my surgery!  Fortunately, my doctor told me I could walk as much as I wanted and I could walk as fast as I wanted as well! So, just five days following my surgery and reconstruction, I walked (very slowly since I still had my drains in!) the Santa Anita 5K with my husband. It was a very emotional race for me!


In the weeks that followed, I walked, walked, walked.  (The day after surgery I walked 2 miles!)  Just four weeks after surgery I met with my plastic surgeon who said I could start running in two weeks, but I probably wouldn’t feel like it as I was starting four cycles of chemotherapy the next Monday.  Well, challenge accepted!! I was determined to prove him wrong! You can’t keep a good runner down.

So, just two weeks later (without hair) I was out on my first run.  I must admit, it was (and continues to be) very slow.  But, I can still run! I’m running every other day (four miles) with a long run of six miles. It’s very humbling to run a minute or two slower than I’m used to, but I must admit I’m totally hooked on those endorphins! And, the best news is that my chemo hasn’t interfered with my running at all! I’ve had very few side effects from the chemo—mainly hair loss and some minor stomach upset—but otherwise I feel great. I’ve still got two more cycles to go, but I hope to be back in full half marathon form by the end of the summer! Take a lesson from me, don’t let anything get in the way of your running! You can run through anything! Take that, cancer!!!! [tweet this]

Billie Villarubia

About the author:
Billie Villarubia

Billie Villarrubia is a very active 61 year old. She’s been a runner all her life and has completed 5 full marathons (PR 4:07:42), 5 half marathons along with numerous 5K’s and 10K’s. Her diagnosis of Stage IIA triple negative breast cancer hasn’t slowed her down at all. Her website is: