Lisa Whitmyer, a nine-year survivor of ER+, early-stage breast cancer and a team leader in the commercial division of Biotheranostics, Inc. spends most of her waking hours educating physicians about Breast Cancer Index, a test that provides information on risk of recurrence and likelihood of benefit from extended anti-estrogen therapy for ER+, early-stage breast cancer patients. Recently, finding limited free time within a consuming professional career, Lisa has been training, and training for an IRONMAN held in Lake Placid, NY just last weekend.
This was Lisa’s second Ironman race (2.4 mi swim, 112 mi bike, 26.2 mi run) and she found it a rewarding and revelatory experience. “Pushing yourself both mentally and physically beyond what you would normally assume possible is a lesson and a skill that many people never learn.” Lisa draws many comparisons between the preparation and dedication for the race and the perseverance she and the rest of the team at Biotheranostics demonstrate on a daily basis.
Lisa relates, “Ironman races are about dedication, commitment to a goal and perseverance- knowing full well the day will be spent facing adversity, doubt, emotions (including tears) and fear. A wise woman reminded me the evening before the race that I needed to remember to control the things I could control: nutrition, pace and my own attitude. As my race day approached, I experienced anxiety, self-doubt and fear. All emotions I had experienced in my first ironman race almost 10 years ago. The difference was the motivation.” Although the reason she had signed up for this Ironman was to commemorate her 50th birthday, what she realized on race morning was that it was not about a milestone birthday. “It was about redefining and understanding who I was as a person, what challenged me to be better, how I managed adversity and improving my own resilience as a competitor and a person.”
In her words, the challenges were epic; 6500 foot climb (not once, but twice), a difficult, hot run with lots of hills, road rash, a dropped chain, dehydration and feeling ill. All for what you ask? “The knowledge that, like a cancer survivor, which I am, it is possible to face adversity and overcome. The moments of self-doubt, pain, exhaustion and ultimately exhilaration were well worth every moment of the last 9 months of training and the grueling race on Sunday. I know who I am and what motivates me to succeed and above all else, I know how to succeed when faced with adversity.”
In turn, Lisa motivates her colleagues by drawing on her Ironman experiences (they see, feel and are elevated by her strength, resilience and positive outlook). In the work that the team at Biotheranostics does, and frankly, the work that any of us do, there are ups and downs, and the ability to succeed amidst the adversity, struggles and pain are well worth it in the end when we cross our personally defined finish lines. Lisa continues, “The added benefit of what we (at Biotheranostics) do is helping women. Like me, or someone’s mother, sister, aunt, friend or grandmother in her battle with cancer. Their own Ironman race, of sorts. These survivors are facing their own doubt, emotion and adversity! We acknowledge that this is their journey. Our goal is to improve understanding by women and their doctors that each patient journey is unique, each treatment plan may be tailored and that Breast Cancer Index can add important personalized information to the discussion.