Being able to say "I'm cancer free” two years into a five year treatment plan is a beautiful thing; add running (with your friends) in the 2022 Love Run as a Legacy of Hope sponsored athlete and you’ve got the icing on the cake. And Jenna Lampe is ready to enjoy both.
Originally from Ridley Park, Lampe has lived in Philly’s Fairmount section since 2006. An athlete ever since she could pick up a baseball bat, she competed in collegiate softball for four years, and in basketball for a year. Lampe credits fitness with helping her bounce back from the five surgeries she’s undergone since her 2020 breast cancer diagnosis. “Being in good shape physically has 100% helped me to rebound very quickly from all the surgeries, and to heal pretty well. I’m a big proponent of maintaining a good fitness level. It does wonders. It helps you clear your head, and the physical benefits of being active are great. If I wasn't healthy before cancer, I don’t think my recovery would have gone as well.”
In June 2020 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As she puts it, "I decided to be radical—in order to not have to deal with recurrences—and had a double mastectomy.” Between July 2020 to November 2021 she endured a total of five surgeries—for tissue removal, reconstruction and taking care of a post-op infection.
“I’ve struggled trying to get back to being in my best shape; it’s been a long road.” That may be true, but little more than a year after her diagnosis (and multiple surgeries), she participated in the PHL24 as a sponsored 24-hour athlete. Lampe logged an impressive 26 miles of climbing the iconic “Rocky” steps before to bowing out because of a piriformis injury (the piriformis is a muscle deep in the buttock, located beneath the gluteus maximus). While Lampe might be frustrated that she’s not yet back at peak fitness, she is mindful enough to tell herself “I’ve had two years where I’ve been on and off. I give myself some grace with the recovery.” By “on and off” Lampe is referring to not being able to workout for stretches of 6-8 weeks; in addition to shutting down any weight lifting and upper body exercises. She states “I was limited to low-impact efforts like walking and riding my Peloton.” Peak fitness or not, her efforts are admirable.
When asked what advice she’d give to someone who just received a breast cancer diagnosis, Lampe doesn’t hesitate for a second before responding: “Take the time you need to heal and figure out a plan. Always seek a second opinion. Also, find a great therapist to talk to. I was fortunate enough to connect with two women—one a few years younger than me and one about ten years older—with very similar paths and diagnoses. We’ve become good friends; they really understand the struggles and challenges. I would recommend that everyone try to find a friend who has a similar diagnosis. Your cancer team or provider may be able to connect you with someone they feel would be a good fit. I've relied heavily on these two women for support, for laughs, even for nights that we just cry. That’s key in overcoming the diagnosis.” Lampe adds “The most important lesson for me in all this is adapting—being able to make changes, not only in terms of your profession, but in terms of dealing with what’s been handed to you; and moving on to continue living your life having made those changes.”
Lampe’s connection with Legacy of Hope began with a visit to a Saturday morning Core-Fitness bootcamp, with Gina Mancuso. “I was a couple months out from one of my surgeries. I was cleared to workout, and a friend of mine thought I would love this group. I spoke with Gina before class to let her know my limitations, and if she didn’t see me doing push ups or planks I’d need some alternatives. After a couple classes, Gina asked if I’d be interested in doing the PHL24 and the Love Run. I said, “Of course, why not? And now, here we are week out from the Love Run.” Lampe plans to continue participating in Legacy’s events and also wants to get more involved with grocery deliveries for Legacy’s Emergency Patient Support Network “To help the community, to let people know that there are patients out there—neighbors even—that need our help. I want to be part of that.”
You can run with Jenna on March 27, 2022 in the Love Run 7k, or push yourself to complete the half marathon. Whatever your pleasure, there’s still time to register at PhillyRunsFree.com; if you raise $250 for Legacy of Hope, your registration fee will be refunded and you’ll race for free. If you’re not running/walking in the Love Run but you’d like to support Jenna’s efforts to ensure that families in Philadelphia with a loved one fighting cancer never go hungry you can donate at her Love Run fundraiser.