Amy Elsner's Story
A triathlete faces her toughest challenge with some help from the Bennett Cancer Center
After Amy Elsner had her second baby, the Stamford resident and young mother decided to train for a triathlon—an ambitious strategy to shed some “baby fat.” She had never tried such a demanding physical feat before, and remembers thinking to herself that it was a difficult undertaking, one she was tackling all on her own. “It was quite a challenge,” Amy recalls. “Well, what I thought was a challenge.”
At the time, Amy didn’t know she was about to undergo another physical trial—this time with treatments and surgeries for soon-to-be-diagnosed breast cancer. Just days before the triathlon, Amy felt a lump in her breast, but decided to go ahead and do the event. “I called my OB/GYN on Monday, the day after the event. By Thursday, I had the diagnosis of breast cancer,” recounts Amy.
For her cancer care, Amy decided on the Bennett Cancer Center, as it was close to home and came highly recommended. Her treatment included a bilateral mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy, radiation, and breast reconstructive surgery. “I think it is amazing that this facility is here, and it’s so great for our community… people with cancer don’t have to go anywhere else,” explains Amy. “To me, that was the biggest thing, because I only had to drive a few minutes to get here. I couldn’t imagine having to go anywhere else.”
Right after Amy completed treatment and had her reconstructive surgery, she noticed the posters and excitement at the Bennett Cancer Center for the upcoming Hope in Motion Walk, Run, and Ride. She decided to participate. “I knew I could not run, although I would have liked to, so instead, I gathered my family and friends and had them do it for me!” remembers Amy. “I just sat with the clowns and waited for everyone to come through.” That was the first of many fundraising efforts Amy would participate in for Hope in Motion, as she took advantage of “every single aspect” of the cancer center’s integrative services and programs, ones that are funded by Hope in Motion efforts. She was the recipient of a grant to help with financial hardship as a result of her condition, enjoyed massage and reiki therapy, met with a nutritionist (she is now a vegetarian), and worked out with a personal trainer to help recover her strength. “Without Hope in Motion, I don’t think we would have as much holistic support here at the Bennett Cancer Center. It’s not just medical support they offer, but a total approach to care,” notes Amy. “They gave me the strength to beat cancer and be an advocate for cancer survivors and patients. They helped me believe I was going to be okay.”