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The Sport of Cancer: How One Survivor Linked Ironman Training and Colorectal Cancer


Teri Griege completed an Ironman triathlon in 2009, and less than a month later received a stage 4 colorectal cancer diagnosis. In this episode of Cancer Horizons, she shared her story.

In 2009, Teri Griege was in the best shape of her life. In fact, the 48-year-old just completed an Ironman — a grueling race consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. So, she was completely shocked when, two weeks after her race, she was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer.

Triathlete and cancer survivor Teri Griege showcasing her medals

Teri Griege was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer two weeks after completing an Ironman triathlon.

Photo courtesy of Teri Griege

Griege said that competing in triathlons was really a four-discipline sport: running, biking, swimming and — importantly — mindset. After receiving her diagnosis, she took that attitude into her cancer treatment, only now instead of participating in a run, bike and swim, it would be radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.

“Initially when I went into (cancer treatment), the radiation was one sport, the chemotherapy was a second sport and the surgery was a third sport. So you get through one and you move on to the next,” Griege said in an interview with CURE®. “Even within one, you still have to break that down… when you start a marathon, you don’t want to think about mile 26. You’re going to think about getting through mile number one… so I just went with the same kind of game plan (for cancer treatment) as I would for a competition.”

In this episode of the Cancer Horizons podcast, Greige shares her story, including how she became an “accident advocate” for patients with colorectal cancer — including her sister, who was diagnosed with the disease only two weeks after she was.

“I saved my sister’s life right out of the gate,” Griege said. “So I feel like advocacy has been my calling.”

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