Run, bike, swim, eat, sleep, repeat! A calendar in the Pascale family kitchen has this peppy rhyme scrawled at the top. And with just 38 days left to participate in an upcoming triathlon in September, the Pascales plan out their daily exercise routine so they are in optimum shape, prior to tackling their latest athletic challenge.
Jennifer Pascale, 39, of East Naples, is ready to reach her goal of achieving her optimum time in her running, biking and swimming training circuits, alongside her husband Greg, and brother Danny Harper, in September.
The triathlon course will consist of a strenuous 400-meter swim from one buoy to the other in the Gulf of Mexico, biking another intense nine miles on a closed road in Venice Beach, and changing gears to complete the race with a 5K run along Casperson Beach in Venice Beach sponsored by the local YMCA.
There is one difference in Pascale that sets her apart from the other triathletes at the starting line in Venice Beach. Pascale survived triple negative breast cancer just short of a year ago. Her husband Greg discovered the lump in her breast in March 2009, and she confirmed her husband’s discovery after visiting her local gynecologist, Dr. Thomas Beckett.
“After the appointment, I remember going numb. It was a lot to take in,” said Pascale, a wife and mother to her 2-year-old son, Gavin. Pascale’s breast cancer diagnosis was grim with the rarity of the type of breast cancer she had.
Once confirming it was triple negative breast cancer, Pascale began the journey of arranging her treatment options. Pascale underwent a lumpectomy, dose dense chemotherapy, and radiation treatments with doctors in Moffitt Cancer Research Institute in Tampa, and she conferred with doctors in Naples regarding her treatment options, too.
“My husband and mom and I poured over the Internet looking for others who went through it, and I read that it was more likely to recur than any other types of breast cancer,” she said.
According to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, her form of cancer can be more aggressive, and is more likely to recur and metastasize than other types of breast cancer. It typically is responsive to chemotherapy, although it can be more difficult to treat because it is unresponsive to the most effective targeted treatments.
Triple negative breast cancer also is a high risk breast cancer that doesn’t respond well to specific and traditional therapies. Pascale knew she had to vigorously fight it. “I knew I was not going to sit around and pity myself. All women have a fighter and a warrior in them, so I was ready to fight.”
“I never, ever asked, why me? I thought to myself, when life hands you bad situations, instead of why me, it’s try me,” Pascale said of how she endured her treatments, and ultimately ran her first triathlon, all while going through her treatments and checkups while commuting biweekly from Naples to Tampa.
Back in June 2010, Pascale participated in her first triathlon of her life in Naples by completing the Naples Fitness Challenge.
“I looked around at the other triathletes and remember crying in the first part of the run as I felt I accomplished a lot to be there among them,” said Pascale, who is still undergoing follow-up visits for her breast cancer in Tampa. “I finished that day with a total time of 1:22:31, but took away so much more than time. I took away a sense of accomplishment, and a hope to be an inspiration to others.”
Pascale also credits her family in Naples, and her friends in helping her maintain her positive spirit. “Every day, I stay positive and have faith and hope that I will get to the two year mark with no reoccurrences and go on to live a beautiful life with my family and friends.”
Her advice to those who are fighting cancer, “Stay positive no matter what, and I believe in the power of prayer. I had people in Naples that I never met praying for me, and I’m thankful to them.”
To learn more about triple negative breast cancer, visit www.tnbcfoundation.org/