Women CAN Overcome Anything
Laura Branson, you are an Ironman
Some spoken words change you forever. In 2017 I competed in a full Ironman competition. A 4km swim, 180km bike, and a 42 km run. Crossing the finish line and hearing Laura Branson, you are an Ironman installed within me the belief that I CAN. Laura Branson, you are an Ironman.
About a month after the Ironman, my father passed away. The date was December 10th, 2017. As I trained for the event, I knew my father’s time on earth was narrow, and I poured my grief into five-hour bike rides. One of our last exchanges spoken in his hospital room was, “Dad, I did it. I completed the Ironman.” He was proud.
Laura Branson, you have cancer
A year to the day of his passing, I sat in my doctor’s office following a mammogram and biopsy. I had found a lump a week prior. Cancer. The words “Laura Branson, you have breast cancer” moved me into an entirely new season of my life, and would change me forever. Laura Branson, you have cancer.
I came home and told my husband that I had breast cancer. His response, he was not worried about me but about how we would survive financially. I had been in a physiologically and emotionally abusive marriage for twelve years. His words were not new.
I am the mother to two young girls, and my time with them was not done. Using my athletic training mindset, I had a mastectomy, eight rounds of the harshest chemo for a breast cancer patient, and twenty-five rounds of radiation.
Despite the emotional strain in my marriage, I had always wanted my kids to grow up in an intact family. I fought so hard to hold together something that had no seams. Perhaps my cancer would show my husband that his family, his wife, was precious.
Nearing the end of radiation, he told me we were divorcing.
Then I prayed hard and found strength through faith.
I fought for everything legally owed to me, sheltered my girls, bought a house, kept my business running. I started partnering with a not-for-profit group entitled SheStrong, an all-cancer, all-female athletic community; aimed to inspire and support women with cancer through sport.
I met the founder of SheStrong Brandy Ramirez on an all female Triathlon platform. I was in active treatment and she was just coming out of it. She said she had an idea and a plan to create purpose from her cancer trauma. She wanted to start a group aimed at supporting athletes through cancer treatment and she did. I was the very first member and some time later partnered with her as the social media director and content writer. I am in Canada and she is in the U.S. and while we have never met in person that is about to change as our future race goals and plans bring us together.
Women CAN overcome anything.