Diane "The Shark" Elmore's Cancer Story: Training to Survive

June 25, 2020

Diane has always been a runner. As a devoted triathlete; running, swimming and biking were her passions. When she got the news that she had stage III breast cancer, however, she did not run. She decided to face it head on.

In September of 2016, Diane was racing in the Atlantic City Ironman 70.3. During the swimming portion of the race, she was kicked so hard that she thought she would drown. Although she was gasping for air and struggling to stay afloat, she persevered and made it to dry ground, and even went on to finish the race.

After a month, Diane noticed that the pain from the kick never fully subsided. Her doctor told her that it was probably nothing, but to get it checked out just to be safe. What she thought to be pain from the accident, turned out to be stage III breast cancer. She was completely shocked.

“I cried,” Diane said of her reaction to the news. “I knew life was going to become very challenging, and that my normal training plans would change into a new type of medical training plan.”

A new chapter in her life had just opened. Instead of training her body for the next race, she would be training her body to survive. Diane started her AC-T chemotherapy treatments in January and continued through April. On May 22nd, Diane had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction (tissue expanders). On May 31st, Diane was rushed into emergency surgery for a broken artery near her heart.

After all of the surgery she was put under, she was given the disheartening news that her cancer did not respond to the chemo. “That was unexpected since I had thought I was done with it all,” Diane explained of the reality that her cancer was still there. “That really stunk.”

After all that Diane’s cancer has put her through, she has kept a positive outlook on life.

“I am grateful to MyLifeline for the ability to post updates to family and friends as well as the calendar feature to organize meals and rides in one place.”

“Some days are more difficult than others to make the choice that I will be the best me that I can, and not wallow,” she said of her fight to stay optimistic. What motivates her the most to be the best version of herself is her family.

“Life is short, and you just don't know what will happen. I am able to bike and run today, but I might not be able to tomorrow. Each day is a gift. I want my kids to know that, and take advantage of each day!”

Diane’s husband Kevin and her many friends have come together to help in ways that she could never have imagined. It has been difficult for her to ask for help in areas that she used to be independent, such as preparing meals and planning transportation for her children. She uses MyLifeLine to organize these things so that it’s not so much of a struggle.

Another challenge that she has had to face throughout her journey was the loss of her ability to exercise as she used to. Five years before her diagnosis, Diane lost 80 pounds in order to lead a healthier life and be around for her children. Diane has done her best to continue to train throughout her treatment, as it is a way for her to “hold onto some semblance of [herself] and [her] sanity.”

“I might not be fit enough to race right now, but I need to maintain sanity. I never regret a workout after it is done. They clear my mind and make me sane and able to handle the treatments. I think exercise should be part of treatment to keep us strong and get us through it!”

MyLifeLine has provided Diane with a forum to keep her family and friends posted as she continues her journey through cancer. “I am grateful to MyLifeline for the ability to post updates to family and friends as well as the calendar feature to organize meals and rides in one place.” She said of her MyLifeLine membership. Because Diane uses MyLifeLine, her brother, who is a policeman in Oceanside, Calif., was inspired to organize his police department’s participation in 2017’s Relay for Life.

Since her cancer diagnosis, she has learned to ask for help where she did not need it before and to make someone’s day better, even in small ways that she did not before her diagnosis. Although cancer has been a tremendous challenge in her life, posing great obstacles for Diane and her family, there is an upside to the experience.

“A silver lining to cancer is that I have felt loved in ways I never imagined before. Everyone should feel this loved during their lives,” she reflected.

If you would like to connect with Diane, send her an email at diane@operachef.com or join her MyLifeLine community at www.mylifeline.org/TeamElmore