On Wednesday, Kikkan Randall went public with the news that she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Although we caught it early and the prognosis is good, my life will change quite a bit in the coming months,” she wrote on Facebook.
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The color pink has taken on a new chapter in my life as I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Although we caught it early and the prognosis is good, my life will change quite a bit in the coming months. I have returned to Anchorage for treatment at @providencealaska Cancer Center. It’s a scary thing to learn you have cancer and I have wondered every day since how this could have possibly happened to me. But I have promised myself that I will remain positive and active and determined throughout my treatment. I am going to bring as much tenacity, strength, and energy toward this challenge as I have throughout my entire career. I began my first round of chemo on Monday surrounded by great friends and family. I made to sure get a gym workout in beforehand, rode my bike to and from the hospital, and wore my happy shoes. I will be using my blog to keep everyone posted through my upcoming journey. #Kikkanimal @llbean @aktivmotkreft @aktiv_usa photos by @charlesrenfroski
Randall received her first round of chemotherapy on Monday at the Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska, the city where she grew up. After winning Olympic gold in February with U.S. teammate Jessie Diggins then retiring from the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team this spring, she and her husband, Jeff Ellis, and their 2-year-old son, Breck, moved to Penticton, British Columbia. Jeff had a new job, and they hoped to expand their family there, according to the Anchorage Daily News (ADN).
As she spoke with the ADN inside her parents’ Anchorage home on Wednesday, shortly after announcing her diagnosis on social media, Randall, a 35-year-old three-time World Championships medalist, three-time Sprint World Cup champ and 13-time World Cup race winner, remained optimistic. While doctors won’t know the scope of the cancer until they operate, they believe its in an early stage, Stage 2, she said.
The ADN reported that Randall will have six rounds of chemotherapy with one infusion every three weeks. She rode her bike to the hospital on Monday wearing her rainbow-colored “happy shoes” and is hoping she can use a treadmill or stationary bike during future infusions, which take hours. She already emailed her oncologist to see if that was permissible.
“I haven’t heard anything back yet but if they’re open to it, I’d be willing to try it,” Randall told the ADN.
After chemo, she’ll have surgery, but Randall was unclear what that would entail. It could be anything from a lumpectomy to a double mastectomy.
In her interview with the ADN, Randall explained that she doesn’t have a family of breast cancer. Between chemo sessions, she’s hoping to return to her new home in B.C.
Since discovering two pea-sized lumps on her breast on Mother’s Day, May 13, Randall underwent a mammogram, an ultrasound and a biopsy, then received the news that she had cancer while in Sweden for a wedding less than a month later. In that time, she told the ADN she’s felt everything from “denial and disbelief and frustration, but I always come back to the same skills I’ve used in my athletic career,” she said. “I need to focus on what I can control. I need to be positive and optimistic.”
“… It’s so surreal for me because I just won a gold medal four months ago and I just was feeling on top of the world,” she said. “Life is going to kind of forever change.”
Randall is widely recognized for her trademark pink hair, a color she wrote “has taken a on new chapter in my life” and one she plans to keep throughout treatment, even in the form of wigs. Randall has been involved in breast cancer awareness projects in the past, but previously used her pink locks to attract attention to her sport. Then pink became her good-luck charm.
Looking forward, she’s already coined a term for herself post-treatment: “Kikkan 2.0”.
“I’ll take this on like I have taken on anything else,” she told the ADN. “I think Kikkan 2.0 could be pretty awesome.”
She noted on social media that she’ll be using her blog, Kikkan.com, to provide updates during her “upcoming journey,” as she put it.
As of Thursday afternoon, her post had garnered more than 3.3 million reactions on Facebook and upwards of 11,500 likes on Instagram, as well as supportive comments from numerous top-level international athletes. The National Nordic Foundation sent her well-wishes via Instagram on Wednesday, as did the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Olympic Committee.
(Update: On Thursday, Randall’s friends started an online fundraiser to help with her medical costs. As of Friday, they had raised nearly $17,000 toward a $45,000 goal. For more information, visit www.gofundme.com/support-kikkan039s-fight)