Olympic skier Kikkan Randall, 35, shares breast cancer diagnosis: 'Life will change quite a bit'

Elise Solé
Yahoo Lifestyle
Kikkan Randall her son, Breck Stuart, on Feb. 24, 2017, in Lahti, Finland. (Photo: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Kikkan Randall her son, Breck Stuart, on Feb. 24, 2017, in Lahti, Finland. (Photo: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Olympic cross-country skier Kikkan Randall announced she has breast cancer, noting that “life will change quite a bit.”

The gold medalist and mom shared her diagnosis Wednesday in an optimistic Facebook post. “The color pink has taken on a new chapter in my life as I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer,” Randall, 35, who rocks pink-streaked hair, wrote to her nearly 30K followers.

“Although we caught it early and the prognosis is good, my life will change quite a bit in the coming months,” she wrote. “I have returned to Anchorage for treatment at @providencealaska Cancer Center. It’s a scary thing to learn you have cancer and I have wondered every day since how this could have possibly happened to me. But I have promised myself that I will remain positive and active and determined throughout my treatment. I am going to bring as much tenacity, strength, and energy toward this challenge as I have throughout my entire career.”

Randall added, “I began my first round of chemo on Monday surrounded by great friends and family. I made to sure get a gym workout in beforehand, rode my bike to and from the hospital, and wore my happy shoes. I will be using my blog to keep everyone posted through my upcoming journey.” She used the hashtag #Kikkanimal. 

“I discovered a few small lumps in my breast on Mother’s Day after spending a wonderful day with my family,” Randall tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I wasn’t doing a self-exam, my hand just brushed past the area, but I knew something wasn’t right.”

On Memorial Day, Randall got a mammogram, an ultrasound, and a biopsy and three days later, she was given a diagnosis: Two tumors, less than one centimeter, indicated stage one triple positive breast cancer. The treatment plan is chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumors, possible radiation, and hormone therapy treatments for anywhere from five to ten years.

The timing was unfortunate for Randall, who recently moved to British Columbia (her husband and son are Canadian citizens) and hadn’t yet acquired her residency status that guarantees free medical care under the country’s single-payer healthcare system. What’s more, Randall and Ellis had just started trying for baby number two, a plan that’s now delayed due to the potential effects of cancer treatment on a woman’s fertility.

“Being a mom is the hardest part of all this,” Randall tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “You assume you will always be around for your kids and something like this makes you question your future. I realized I might not have the energy to keep up with my son.”

On June 10th, before beginning chemo, Randall underwent fertility treatments as a protective measure, which she’ll resume once she’s healthy again. And she’s determined to stay active, even requesting a treadmill for her chemotherapy infusions, which she’ll undergo every three weeks in her home state of Alaska. 

In February, Randall made history in the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics in South Korea by winning a gold medal in cross-country skiing — the first for a U.S. athlete — and was elected to the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission for an eight-year term. 

At the time, the five-time Olympian shared with Yahoo Lifestyle that her 2-year-old son Breck, whom she parents with her husband and former ski racer Jeff Ellis, is her biggest motivator. “Because I’ve been doing this career almost twenty years, and coming back to the same places over and over and over, he’s really just kind of revived my passion for everything,” said Randall“Everywhere we go now, I look for playgrounds and I look for the fun sledding hill, and it’s just been so fun. But what’s the most important thing is that when I go out on the trail, whether I win or lose, I get to come home to a smiling little boy that’s happy to see me either way.”

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