Ann Mansfield of Decorah, Iowa was diagnosed in March with stage 2 breast cancer. She quickly began treatment that included surgery, chemotherapy, antibody infusions and radiation. But this nurse, healthy-community advocate and 2016 Walking College fellow was not willing to take her treatment lying down. Rather, Mansfield has used walking as a means of getting through this physically and mentally grueling process.
Mansfield has walked between 10 and 11 miles most days since her diagnosis. She starts with a 5-mile walk early in the morning through her small town, sometimes with her brother and sister at her side. Afternoons, she heads out for another 5 miles on the bike trail along the river. Her oncologist hasn’t had another patient who has kept up this level of activity while undergoing cancer treatment, but Mansfield says he thinks it’s been beneficial to her.
“Walking has helped me manage treatment side effects and maintain physical strength and stamina,” she wrote in an email. As importantly, she added, “walking has been a wonderful distraction, helping me maintain a very positive outlook and a feeling of rejuvenation every day.” She said it’s also been a way to connect with friends and family members during a trying time. “When people asked what they could do to help me, I said, ‘Don’t bring me a casserole, go for a walk with me.’ Many have done that, and it’s been an incredible part of the journey.”
Mansfield finished her last course of radiation in September. We are wishing her all the best.