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On the fast track back

Lisa Lund is still on the move even after a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Lisa Lund is still on the move even after a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

A mastectomy can’t slow islander Lisa Lund, who’s training as hard as ever.

Lisa Lund had a double mastectomy on a Tuesday. By Saturday, she was back at spin class.

She thought the surgery might put her out for longer than it did, but her physical condition got the better of her.

“I was hoping I’d have all this downtime,” she said.

Downtime wasn’t and isn’t part of the plan the long-time triathlete, trainer and physical therapist who was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ last October.

Throughout treatment, Lund has continued to work and train. She’s also sought to build community around surviving breast cancer, which according to the American Cancer Society is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women.

After Lund’s diagnosis, doctors presented her with two different treatment options: a lumpectomy followed by radiation, or a mastectomy.

Lund opted for an aggressive approach. While she could have gone with a single mastectomy, she thought ahead to both the aesthetics of her future breast reconstruction and to the possibility that cancer could later appear in the still-healthy breast.

Her decision turned out to be lucky. A lymph node biopsy, performed as a matter of course after any double mastectomy, revealed that the cancer had indeed moved into her lymph nodes.

After the January surgery, Lund’s plastic surgeon inserted saline spacers into her chest that got weekly “pump-ups” in preparation for the permanent silicone implants that replaced them last week.

Lund also began weekly chemotherapy sessions that will continue into the summer.

The athlete and health practitioner has approached every stage of the cancer and recovery process with curiosity and an appreciation for the knowledge she’s gained.

Although she sees injured clients as part of her work every day, she’s been granted new insight into the process of healing.

“It’s been fascinating to go through,” she said. “The more injuries I’ve had, the more it helps me. It changes how I practice.”

Lund also found out how much she can learn from her patients themselves.

By coincidence, a woman whom Lund was treating for back pain was going through treatment for the same type of cancer she had.

She proved to be an invaluable resource to Lund at each stage of the process, and the connection underscored for Lund the importance of sharing each other’s stories, a lesson she hopes to carry forth to others she meets with cancer.

“Everybody who goes through this is out there for everybody else,” Lund said.

Island photographer and Lund’s friend Pete Saloutos is on the same wavelength.

Around 1990, Saloutos lost a friend to breast cancer and vowed that the next time someone he knew had to go through it, he’d do something concrete to help.

“When Lisa came up and told me (about her cancer),” he said, “I walked away knowing there was going to be some sort of response.”

Saloutos thought of “Calendar Girls,” the 2003 British film in which a group of women of a certain age agree to bare their breasts pinup style for a hospital fundraising effort.

“What does Lisa represent?” Saloutos said. “A very strong-willed woman who works out like a maniac.”

He approached Lund about the idea of a breast cancer benefit calendar picturing her and other Bainbridge women athletes, each engaged in a chosen sport. Each nude.

“Her mouth dropped,” Saloutos said. “And then she said, ‘That’s a great idea!’ She’s the only person on the island who I could pitch this idea to and she’d buy it.”

Saloutos and Lund, who will be pictured cycling, are putting together a nonprofit corporation for the 2008 calendar proceeds. He’s taken 10 of the 12 photographs and says he could complete and print the calendar as early as this summer, to be sold locally, on Amazon.com and on a future Lisa Lund fund site.

The two haven’t finalized the details about how the calendar proceeds will be directed, but they know every dollar will go toward combating breast cancer, and they’re aiming big.

“The goal here is to get the calendar out here, get a national presence...and then go after big, big money from corporations who want to feel good,” Saloutos said.

In the meantime, Lund continues to train and to evangelize fitness as a means toward general health and recovery.

Doctors told her that because she’s in such good shape, both her surgery and her back-to-active status took far less time than average.

And she’s counting her blessings.

“Everything with me has been so easy and so good,” she said.

Now that Lund’s permanent implants are in, the next steps are to tattoo an aureole onto each breast and then use tissue from her eyelids to create the nipples. She jokes that she’s going to angle for a little plastic surgery as a perk.

“Boob job, new eyes,” she said. “And if we really get through this, no more fear of breast cancer.”

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Get active

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure race will take place on June 16 at Qwest Field. It’s not too late to join Bainbridge Island’s team T&C, now in its 13th year of participation. To register, visit www.komenpugetsound.org until 5 p.m. May 25. Raffle tickets for the “Hugs and Good Health” benefit quilt are also available at the checkout counters at T&C and Central Market in Poulsbo.

To see the Lisa Lund breast cancer benefit calendar project in progress, visit www.petesaloutos.com.

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