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Giving Thanks for the Present

“We all have two lives. The second one begins when we realize we only have one.”

While Confucius may have scripted this profound message, it's EOTS members like Susan Parés who keep it current and relevant. Reiterating this gripping insight at her photoshoot last year, she shared with us her own journey – a second life of sorts that began after breast cancer.

Susan is featured for the month of November in our calendar and we find this very fitting. As Thanksgiving nears and we take a moment to give thanks, let’s follow Susan’s good example and give thanks for the present - even if the present is filled with what may seem like an uphill battle. If we’re still around to talk about breast cancer, we’re still around to live through it. Just like she did.

Susan was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in December 2014, after finding a lump during a breast self-exam. IDC, also referred to as infiltrating ductal carcinoma, is the most common type of breast cancer taking up about 80% of all breast cancers. After diagnosis, Susan spent the next 6 months undergoing chemo, multiple surgeries, and 33 rounds of radiation.

She became cancer free in July 2015.

“I was not able to let this terrible disease break me down completely,” she said.

Well Susan was anything but broken down; she was in many ways rebuilt. Susan teamed up to train with the Spartans and let this newfound strength help navigate her through her battles. If you’re unfamiliar, we’re not time warping and talking about Ancient Greeks, we’re talking about a mass of present day fierce men and women who challenge themselves in races across the United States and in 14 other countries around the world. You can get an idea of Susan’s own Spartan strength in her calendar snapshot above.

Spartan races were founded in Vermont by Joe De Sena, a world class adventure racer. In their own words, Spartans aren't soft but are gritty, resilient, and passionate. And they overcome obstacles, too – both physical and emotional.

This determination and way of thinking was just what Susan needed at the time of her diagnosis. Testing her body to the limits she signed on board.

“With support of my family, friends and coworkers, I found the strength to battle, train, follow proper nutrition, practice yoga and complete an obstacle course racing,” she said. “Do not let cancer keep you from living your dreams and setting your goals.”

Spartan races are more than a sport, as they put it; they are a community, philosophy, and a training and nutrition program all in one. Some of you may even be familiar with the NBC Sports series Spartan:

Ultimate Team Challenge which premiered this summer.

During her journey Susan powered much of her inspiration from not only the races themselves but also her Spartan coach. With the help and reinforcement of the following words penned by her coach, Susan believed she would make it through. We’re grateful she has shared these words with us and we hope everyone finds similar encouragement with whatever battles we are facing even outside of breast


“There is a mountain before you, one you feel you can never climb,

the distance is frightening, but I know you can make it to the other side if only you try.

I have seen the strength that you carry inside.

I have seen the will, the passion, the fight in your eyes.

I've witnessed your ambition, I know you can do it one more time.

You can do anything, you can be anyone, you can be happy too,

but first you must believe in the power of you.

You’re powerful, valuable, beautiful, and brave

and I know that you can make it through tomorrow

if you can get through today;

I will be there for you every step of the way.”

Though we all don’t have a Spartan coach to cheer us on, we do have each other and people like Susan within this family who understand and are here for us.

Many fundamental Spartan beliefs can serve as inspiration for us all.

Some include:

Spartans push their minds and bodies to their limits.

Spartans master their emotions.

Spartans prove themselves through actions, not words.

Spartans live every day as if it were their last.

We’re grateful that Susan became a part of our project and shared her beauty and story with us. In another ironic fate, Susan’s birthday is on November 25th so we all would like to wish her a huge happy birthday and hope she enjoys her day, marking another year that breast cancer loses!

As always we’re happy you stopped by and hope you join us month as we wrap up 2016 together with more beauty, strength, and inspiration.

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