How famous triathlete Gillian Roberts beat cancer with a positive attitude

Canadian triathlete Gillian Roberts, 31, has been blunt when it comes to the hardships of cancer: It’s isolating.But she found the strength to defeat

in her identity as a powerful athlete.

Gillian, from British Columbia, Canada, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in June 2019, but today, she is cancer free.

It’s been two and a half years since she finished chemotherapy and she’s thriving, proudly wearing her surgery scar as a badge of honor in a recent photo.

“Cancer is very isolated,” Gillian previously told SurvivorNet, “almost every bit of normalcy you have in your world is suddenly gone.”

For her, however: “Being able to grab this little part of me[as an athlete]and go out for a jog or a hike, really helps me pick myself up every day to be able to work on some of the things I have to work on,” she says .

“When I’m not working, I train all the time,” she continued, “I train really hard to get to my personal best and everything. When you’re an athlete, a lot of your self-worth is based on So, a lot of self-worth is, ‘How good am I? How fast am I?

Ovarian cancer survivor and Canadian triathlete Gillian Roberts fights cancer with strength

But, as her first words said, being treated for ovarian cancer left her alone. It took most of her energy and she found it difficult to continue her previous training regimen.

“During treatment, I wasn’t able to do the kind of strenuous activity I usually want to do,” she said. “So I mostly do sprinting. I started a blog to help inspire and educate about the issues cancer patients are dealing with.”

Although she failed to perform at her best, her positive appearance coupled with her athletic identity also helped her overcome ovarian cancer.

“I’m trying to show what any cancer journey can be like,” she said. “I’ve definitely always been a very positive person, and positivity is a skill. It takes practice, but I think it just comes from me every day and wakes up and chooses a mindset that works for me.”

Now that she has beaten cancer, she continues her healthy lifestyle by continuing to exercise and eating a healthy plant-based diet.

Understanding Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is often referred to as the “whispering cancer” because women often don’t develop symptoms until the disease is at an advanced stage. (It’s unclear what stage of cancer Gillian was diagnosed with.)

The term ovarian cancer refers to the many different tumors that grow in the ovaries. The ovaries produce sex hormones, estrogen, and eggs. Every woman has two ovaries, one on either side of the uterus. The fallopian tubes retrieve the egg from the ovary and transport it to the uterus for fertilization.

Genetic testing can provide valuable information on ovarian cancer risk

Many ovarian cancers actually start in the fallopian tubes. Some cancer cells first grow on the fallopian tube, then, as the tube sweeps over the ovary, these cells stick to the ovary and eventually grow to form a tumor.

Dr. Monica Vetter, a gynecologic oncologist at Baptist Health Medical Group in Lexington, Kentucky, previously told SurvivorNet that most ovarian cancer cases are in stage 3 or 4, like Sophie, because it’s a difficult cancer to screen for. About 70 to 80 percent of women will relapse within the first five years.

Yet despite these daunting statistics, genetic testing for ovarian cancer can lead to life-saving action and screening tests for early detection. For ovarian cancer, more than 90% of cases can be cured if diagnosed early, and genetic testing may be a valuable option.

Contributor: Anne McCarthy

Learn more about SurvivorNet’s rigorous medical review process.

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