After months of training, the “Queenz of Courage,” a relay team of cancer survivors formed by Whitney Pitman, APRN, completed the Kentucky Derby Festival relay race last weekend in 4 hours and 32 minutes, placing 12th in their division.
Pitman, who works with the Multidisciplinary Breast Clinic and heads the Survivorship Clinic at UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center, said she formed the team because she knows “health and wellness during and after cancer is extremely important.” The goal was to promote improved physical function and mental/emotional well-being.
“Being a runner myself, I know that it's a great sport/exercise to start with because you only compete with yourself,” Pitman said. “It's your pace, your race, so it's a great go-to when setting goals because it doesn't matter where you start as long as you're moving forward. These ladies have all been through a lot recently with treatments and surgeries and ongoing adjuvant medications. I knew running would be good for them physically, but I also knew that it would be good for them emotionally. Running is empowering and after cancer, patients need to feel back in control again. Running gives you that control: your race, your pace.”
The group serves as an example to other cancer survivors - it is possible to live well again after cancer. “Treatment may be in the past for these women, but the lingering effects of cancer treatment are still very much a part of their lives,” Pitman said. “They chose to run anyway... It's about doing your personal best and as long as you're moving forward, you're doing it right.”
The “Queenz of Courage” consisted of Pitman, Erin Morris, Beth Mans, Holly Clark and Teresa Popson. The last 0.2 miles of the relay they finished together as a team, hand-in-hand. They have plans to reunite for a Kentucky Derby Festival race next year and hope more survivors will also join them.