Wednesday, May 27, 2009
When you combine running, tris, x-c skiing and snowshoeing, Cynthia Brochman is probably one of the most recognizable names around. The soon-to-be 44-year-old Maplewood resident has found challenges in each of these sports and more. Now she finds herself battling cancer. While she may not be racing as much, she can still be found at races cheering on the competitors and even calling out splits. Plans are currently in the works for a July 27th fundraiser for Cindy at the Best Buy corporate campus. The theme will be casino night and will run from 5-9 PM. As the event gets closer, I'm sure more info will become available. If you'd like more details please contact Kelley DOT Kosin AT BestBuy DOT com. (Photo by Curt Lyons of Glossy Digital)
Let’s start with the most obvious questions; How did you find out you have cancer?
I was out running on December 17th, 2008, when I threw up blood twice during the run/walk back to my office at Best Buy. I had a doctors appointment that day, but went to the emergency room instead.
What type of cancer and the treatments?
I have a myo fibroblastic sarcoma that is in my left abdomen. The tumor is taking up all of the space in the left side that I have. It also metastasized to the liver prior to my knowledge of having cancer. I have been doing chemotherapy since January 1st, Happy New Year, and will continue with chemo for now.
I have also started juicing my meals as well as doing wheatgrass and barley leaf and eating raw foods. Along with the diet, I am using a homeopath to help with a remedy. I am drinking special tea every day as well as taking something called poly-MVA 4 times/day.
I’m also using a FIR bed to sleep under at night which heats my body to destroy the cancer cells that are in it. The goal is to use my own internal healing powers to heal myself. I will do quigong in June for 4 weeks and I use a healer on the weekends using hands/magnets and crystals for waking up and aligning my healing energies.
I also have been seeing an acupuncturist that is specializing in treatment of cancer patients as well as he prescribes herbal teas, aka sticks and bark, for me. He is doing research on how herbal teas can suppress cancer and help treat it.
I think that is enough for now. It is all a lot of work to get everywhere that I need to be and to work a full time job throughout this whole process.
What is the prognosis?
How do I say this? Terminal. The major tumor in my abdomen metastasized to my liver before I knew I had cancer. Since the liver is a primary cleansing organ in the body, and once cancer spreads, it is considered Stage IV. My liver is about 85% functioning, which is a positive, but we cannot operate on the tumors because they are in all four lobes of the liver. Once we diminish the risk in the liver and shrink the larger tumor, I will become a candidate for surgery. Right now, I am inoperable, which is different than most cancer patients. Why did I have to be so different? I guess it is because I am so strong and because there is a plan. Now, I need to find and follow the plan.
Following along on your Caring Bridge site, I’m continuously amazed at your courage and spirit. Have those traits always been prevalent and what do you consider your other strengths?
I believe that these have always been my strengths. Right now, they are just out there because of my will to live and to live a long, prosperous and productive life style. I am not taking the prognosis for what it is. I am seeking alternative therapies and doing everything I can. I think that most people in my situation would do the same thing. My will to live is foremost over everything else. I am going to live to see my 50th wedding anniversary, so I am going to be around for quite some time.
One of your posts talked about how you’re not supposed to focus just on the cancer. So let’s talk a little bit about your amazing athletic accomplishments. Given that, in addition to running, you’re involved with snowshoeing, triathlons, and x-c skiing, can you tell us about some of you accomplishments that you’re most proud of?
My biggest accomplishment is being able to be injury free for so many years is incredible. I am a horse when it comes to endurance sports. I can handle high mileage and high hours of training.
I have also been able to compete for so many years that it is incredible. Since I have been sick, this is the first time off in about 30+ years that I have had.
What was your first endurance sport? When and how did you first get involved? How did the others evolve from there?
I am not sure what my first endurance sport was because I have participated in sports all of my life. I started as a kid in t-ball, softball and golf. I went on to volleyball, basketball and golf on the boy’s team in high school. In college, I played volleyball and ran track then cross country.
I got involved just because it was what we did in my family. There was not an option to not do a sport so that is how it started. I have kept that up throughout my life because of the friends and fun that I have participating in sports of all types.
I have changed sports throughout the years, but one thing always holds true, I just love to have fun and enjoy what life has to offer. I don’t like to lose in team sports, but if we are playing the best that we can, and we lose, that is ok.
I have enjoyed the 20 years of volleyball that I have played in the Twin Cities. At one point, my husband and I were looking at moving to the UP, however, that would mean that I would come back on Sundays to play volleyball on Mondays like I have for 20 years. Why wouldn’t you drive 6+ hours to be with friends? Yes, I was serious so thankfully that never panned out. It would have been a long commute to work on Tuesday mornings.
Do you have a favorite activity?
I don’t have a favorite activity unless you count activities. I just enjoy being active which is why this cancer thing is really cramping my style. I just can’t do the things that I used to do because of the rapid weight lose and the chemo that I am on. I just don’t have the energy that I used to have. Oh well, I am re-shaping my lean muscle mass so I can be stronger when I come back.
Since you’re heavily involved with snowshoe racing, why do you think more runners don’t participate in snowshoeing?
That is a great question. One of the reasons that I believe that runners don’t is because they will run significantly slower times in snowshoeing than in running. If you run 6:00 pace on the roads, you may not be able to break in to the 8:00 mark on snowshoes. It is all dependent on snow conditions and weather. You can’t take a PR from one course and set a different PR on a different course because of the conditions.
That is the only reason why I can think of as to why runners don’t cross over.
In general, what is your training philosophy?
Train hard on hard days, and easy on easy days. Don’t over do the easy days because you won’t be able to train as hard on the tougher days.
I am also a high mileage junky and workout-a-holic so I like to mix up my training or do two different ones/day. It adds to new friends and new adventures.
What are your PRs?
17:54 - 5k
29:19 - 8k
37:10 - 10k
1:21 - ½ marathon
3:01 - marathon
What are some of your favorite races and why?
My favorite race of all times is Hood to Coast. It is a great team race and the friendships that I have made along the way are immeasurable and invaluable. Some of the best times I have had racing are during this race.
Winter Carnival Half Marathon because that is my PR course. I ran a 1:21 on a day that was -10 degrees on the course. Brrr... but it was great.
I guess anyone can say that their favorite races are the ones that they have their PRs on. I just enjoy racing. It could be in the rain and cold, but I would show up. Training runs though, didn’t happen outside in the rain.
I enjoy the racing because it shows you what you have accomplished in training and how far you have come. It is also a great time to see a lot of great friends and enjoy each others company.
What is your fondest athletic memory?
One of my fondest memories was starting and finishing Hood to Coast. We had a year where a gal had a stress fracture in her pelvis. She stuck it out and ran two legs, but could hardly walk so I was able to jump in and help out. I started the race that year and got to finish it as well. There is no greater feeling than knowing that you just outran a person that only had to run three legs and seeing all 11 of your teammates on the beach cheering you on. It is so exhilarating and has brought me to tears on a couple of occasions. Knowing that you put everything out on the course is just reward enough.
If you could run with any Minnesotan, past or present, who would it be?
I don’t know how to answer this question because I think that I have run with most people in the Twin Cities at one time or another. I would love to run though with all of the Olympians that we have from the Twin Cities. One I run with all of the time in my husband, Kevin Brochman, Olympian from ‘84 and ‘88 in cross country skiing. But I recognize all of the time and effort that one has to put in to a sport to get to the top. There are a lot of sacrifices that they endure along the way.
Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started doing these activities?
I wish that I would have done more swimming and learned how to be a better biker during my earlier years. I love participating in the du’s and tri’s in the Twin Cities.
All of the communities in which I have participated are great. They are all supportive of each other and just plain nice people. It is great to see in competitive sports.
[Editor's note: After a year-long battle with cancer, Cindy passed away on December 27, 2009. She will be missed.]