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Cyclocross racer BrittLee Bowman, 34, was stunned to get a cancer diagnosis: NPR

BrittLee Bowman competes during a new bike race. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced a decision on how to treat it. Courtesy of Dan Chabanov hide caption change text Courtesy of Dan Chabanov BrittLee Bowman competes during a new bike race. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced a decision on how to treat it. Courtesy of Dan Chabanov BrittLee Bowman had a great decision to make when she dressed up in an elite cyclocross competition. Cyclocross is a sport that throws obstacles against you, from grains of sand to stairs to knee-high obstacles. And this one, beside the Hudson River in Queens, was nothing else. Bowman pedaled. People cheered. And if you saw her that day … you probably had no idea what she was struggling with. The decision she had to make: Have I both removed my breasts? Everything started with a small lump. "Sometimes in October I just know that I touched my breast and felt a lump," she says. "It was about the size of a pea." She immediately called her mother, Sara Bowman. Her mother says she probably was more worried than her daughter, but she didn't let go. Bowman did a time with his doctor. And the doctor thought it was best to make an ultrasound. And the ultrasound showed another lump. Two total. And that led to a biopsy. And the biopsy led to waiting. "I tell you," she says. "In my mind I didn't have cancer." So Bowman continued…

BrittLee Bowman competes during a new bike race. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced a decision on how to treat it.

Courtesy of Dan Chabanov

hide caption

change text

Courtesy of Dan Chabanov

BrittLee Bowman competes during a new bike race. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced a decision on how to treat it.

Courtesy of Dan Chabanov

BrittLee Bowman had a great decision to make when she dressed up in an elite cyclocross competition. Cyclocross is a sport that throws obstacles against you, from grains of sand to stairs to knee-high obstacles. And this one, beside the Hudson River in Queens, was nothing else.

Bowman pedaled. People cheered. And if you saw her that day … you probably had no idea what she was struggling with. The decision she had to make: Have I both removed my breasts?

Everything started with a small lump. “Sometimes in October I just know that I touched my breast and felt a lump,” she says. “It was about the size of a pea.”

She immediately called her mother, Sara Bowman. Her mother says she probably was more worried than her daughter, but she didn’t let go.

Bowman did a time with his doctor. And the doctor thought it was best to make an ultrasound. And the ultrasound showed another lump. Two total. And that led to a biopsy. And the biopsy led to waiting.

“I tell you,” she says. “In my mind I didn’t have cancer.”

So Bowman continued with his life. She was out shopping when she called.

“You have breast cancer,” she says the doctor told her. “And I was,” Wait. What!? “”

The doctor clarified his statement and told Bowman that the result came back positively. She had a multifocal invasive ductal carcinoma, ductal carcinoma in situ and lobular carcinoma in situ, all in her left breast. Her right was unaffected. She called her mother.

“I won’t even remember what I said,” says Sara Bowman. “I was just trembling.”

For BrittLee, there was no point about the cancer diagnosis.

Rachel Rubino and Bowman at a New Cycle Series. “Many people in my family have had cancer,” says Rubino. “My mother got away from breast cancer when I was 22. So I meet this really deep spot. You know? It’s like being a woman and being an athlete. It may happen to any of us. “

Courtesy of Dan Chabanov

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Courtesy of Dan Chabanov

Rachel Rubino and Bowman at a new bike race. “Many people in my family have had cancer,” says Rubino. “My mother got away from breast cancer when I was 22. So I meet this really deep spot. You know? It’s like being a woman and being an athlete. It may happen to any of us. “

Courtesy of Dan Chabanov

“You can practice every day of the week for an hour and a half – except on Sundays you need a day of rest. Be a pescatarian for six years. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables all the time. All the time. You know you can be pretty healthy and live an active lifestyle and still get cancer, she says. “It sucks.”

Bowman began to examine her particular cancer: medical magazines and everything she could take care of. Meanwhile, there were more tests. alternatives: lumpectomy, double-mastectomy or double-mastectomy

“So if I chose double-mastectomy and then take care of everything right now, hopefully I hope not to return to this cancer,” she says.

Becca Schepps visits Bowman in the hospital.

Courtesy of BrittLee Bowman

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Courtesy of BrittLee Bowman

Becca Schepps visits Bowman at the hospital.

Courtesy of BrittLee Bowman

Thirty-five and single, she wanted the opportunity to have children. Some treatments affect fertility. Then there were a lot of other worries, including how it could affect her sporting career, and also how she looked at her body.

“I’ve always been a very comfortable person with my body … And I know many women are struggling with their bodies and don’t love them,” she says. “And then I had this fear that the surgery would change it about me. It wasn’t quite the fear that it changed my body, it’s as if the fear of changing how I felt about my body.”

She continued to investigate and read. But sometimes newspapers read impersonal.

Then she looked up #doublemastectomy on Instagram. “And they put everything up. They show: This is what it looks like right after the surgery. This is how it looks when you have a bad reconstruction that you are sorry for and that makes you want to get surgery again. This is how it looks When you’re happy your surgery went well, this is how it looks when you have radiation, and just find it on Instagram was really useful to me to see other women, my general age through this experience. “[19659037] Soon she had her surgery date. But still had not decided which surgery to get.

“That was what I thought of every moment.”

Everything that went through her head when she entered the cyclocross race in Queens.

***

That day, Bowman drove through course, fighting for second place with rider Rachel Rubino. The two are competitors and even friends.

“Hi, I’ve been thinking about you so much all week, Rubino told her when they were cutting.” I love you so much. “

Rachel Rubino finished second and Bowman took third in the Rainey Park race.



Eric Lee Bowman

At the last round, Rubino was in the second and Bowman had third place wrapped. They were going to stand on the podium together. That meant a lot to Bowman. But that also meant a lot to Rubino.

“Many people in my family have had cancer,” Rubino says. “My mom got away from breast cancer when I was 22. So I meet this really deep spot. You know? It’s like being a woman and being an athlete. It can happen to any of us.”

** *

The day after the race, Bowman made his decision. She would have surgery to remove both of her breasts. On the day of the meeting, she went to the hospital with family and a friend.

“It was just a long wait for a long wait in there,” says Sarah Bowman.

Finally, it was time.

“So they placed I.V in my arm while I was in the holding area with my family,” Bowman says. “And they walked me down into a hall and there was a lift, and I was with the nurse, and I had to tell my family, so I go into this lift. The door closes. And I was like in the elevator with The nurse and I just cried … It’s just scary. You know you don’t have to do that, but you’re trying to solve the problem. “She entered the operating room in her dress, past a surgical tool table. She climbed up on the table. And she stared in silver lamps.

***

Three weeks after the operation, she was still healing and felt hopeful about racing again.

“I rode on a 28-degree day here in New York City. And I traveled laps in Central Park,” she says.

Athletes are like this: Tuff. But Bowman quickly points out that she only had stage one. She is young. There are many women who work with much worse. That being said, there is still radiation forward, healing from reconstructive surgery and five to ten years of tamoxifen to ward off a recurrent.

“I am who I survived yet? I do not know. Do I still have cancer” I am a little unclear at the moment. Maybe I still have cancer? Or maybe it was all cut from me? I’m not quite sure, “she says.

You can see the wear on Bowman’s face, but also the solution. She will wake up. Roll out of bed. Do her treatment. Continue with her life.

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