Cancer survivor adds Dewey Goes Pink 5K to list of adventures
This Saturday, Oct. 7, Gail Hamman will participate in the Dewey Goes Pink 5K sponsored by the iconic Starboard restaurant in Dewey Beach. The purpose of this event is to raise money for breast cancer research, but for Gail it will be personal. It will also be an important milestone on the road to recovery symbolizing her battle against breast cancer and what she plans to accomplish in the future.
Gail currently lives and works in West Chester, Pa., but has a family house in Rehoboth and has enjoyed summers at the beach for many years. In addition, she has always been into physical fitness and has spent decades running, cycling, swimming and working out with weights. “I was a physical education major in college, so I was always doing something to keep myself in shape and have always been very active,” she said. Working out was just a normal part of her life and something she enjoyed doing.
I met Gail five years ago when she contacted me to train her in the summer, and we worked together consistently until life threw her a curve ball in December 2016. ”I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it had spread to my lymph nodes, so I was required to get a variety of treatment including chemotherapy, radiation and double mastectomy,” said Gail. During this time she chose to continue working as a school nurse despite hardships presented by treatments that made her run-down and sick. “My doctor was adamant that I stay busy, so I continued working with the exception of half-days on Fridays and occasional absences when I felt really bad,” she said. She continued working out, participating in spin class and weight training 2-4 times a week to try to keep up her strength and conditioning, depending on how she felt on days that she had treatments.
As if Gail was not busy enough, she also found time to volunteer in three different organizations including the Tri-State Canine Crisis Response Team, Chester County Hospital and the neighborhood hospice where she used her two chocolate Labradors, Mali and Cassie, as therapy dogs to comfort others who were sick or terminal. In addition to all of this, Gail also found time to get to the gym by 5 a.m. several times a week in the summer with Mali to walk the indoor track, normally averaging 4 miles a day. The most challenging part of her workouts was the lymphedema (swelling and numbness) in her legs caused by surgery, but Mali helped her to get through it. ”Mali was always ready to go,” said Gail. “She knew why we were there, and she went right to the track even on days when I was not feeling up to it.”
We all have problems and hardships we face on a daily basis, but I doubt many of us would be able to keep up with Gail’s schedule, and be as active and positive as she has been during her recovery. Despite her illness and difficult treatments, she has continued to work, work out, volunteer and help others who were sick even when she was fighting breast cancer herself. Her story is truly an inspiration, and her spirit is exactly what the Dewey Goes Pink race stands for. When she crosses that finish line on Saturday escorted by her dog Mali, she will be one step closer to beating breast cancer and accomplishing new goals. “I think a lot of it has to do with faith. Doctors can only do so much; there is something higher that helps control things more,” said Gail.
The 7th annual Dewey Goes Pink 5K (or 1.5-mile walk) was founded by Steve Montgomery and Adam Howard, and will be held at the Starboard in Dewey Beach this Saturday, Oct. 7, starting at 11 a.m. The proceeds will go to the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, and the event has already raised close to $300,000 in its first six years. For more information, go to www.deweygoespink.com.