Carmel mom battles back from breast cancer

Traci Runge
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Indianapolis - Saturday, over 40,000 people will gather in downtown Indianapolis for Race for the Cure. The race is just a warm-up for one participant.

Traci Runge, a Carmel mother of three, has two big events planned after cancer threatened her future. It's been a year since she learned she had breast cancer.

"When I was diagnosed I was three days away from competing in my first triathlon," she said. "No one can fathom how badly you hurt."

Her St. Vincent breast surgeon Dr. Thomas Schmidt treated her large tumor and aggressive invasive breast cancer with chemotherapy before surgery.

"From day one what Traci did was she attacked it," said Dr. Schmidt.

In part, Runge fought back by measuring her physical achievements. She did a baseline test that would serve as her guidelines for recovery. She did 40 push-ups and 58 sit-ups in one minute.

Treatments then replaced workouts on her calendar, including a left side mastectomy.

"I don't miss it. It just doesn't fill the shirt as nicely but you know, I've nursed my daughters. That is what they are there for," said Runge.

Runge's three daughters were her inspiration to fight as her bones ached and her body was blistered with burns by the time radiation wrapped up in December.

"I decided to come in January 3rd, knowing I was going to get back into the gym and push myself and start training for the triathlon that I missed a year ago," said Runge.

Now Sunday, a full year before trainers and doctors thought possible, Runge will compete in the Carmel triathlon.

"To be at the level of 60 to 85 percent and what she has gone through this last year, at this level is amazing," said Matt Shade, Runge's FitLivin trainer.

"I may not be where I was a year ago and I'm okay with that but I'm going to do it," said Runge.

But first, more than 40 of her friends will wear shirts in unity at the Race for the Cure.

"Traci was adamant about the word team/ She wanted the word team on there," said Kimberli Boston-Smith.

"Every person on my team is a friend and they have helped me," said Runge.

"She thinks she's so normal and we think beyond that," said Boston-Smith.

"Her ability to get to these levels just doesn't happen. It comes mental toughness," said Shade.

"I've had many tearful times I've broken down and I've cried, and I've worked out gotten in the car and just cried form there it's like I just can't do it," said Runge. "then it's like okay, Traci put on your big girl pants and stop moping."

Now Runge is cancer free and grateful to be one of thousands giving back in the parade of pink.

"There are very few people that could do what she did," said Shade.

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