You’re Stronger Than You Think-Hannah Smith

For someone in their late 20’s to feel lucky that they were diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, they would have to be a very special individual.

Hannah Smith is just that: very special, indeed.

Her story isn’t just one of survival; it’s an inspirational journey of using what many of us might consider a nightmarish situation to then fully live life and recognize the beauty and wonder that exists all around us.

In this episode, Hannah shares her incredible journey and outlook with us.

From her life before her diagnosis, through the treatment and recovery, having to adjust to a new ‘normal’, and ultimately achieving goal after goal, not just in regards to competing in races and triathlons, but in all areas of her life.

Her experience, attitude and advice are not helpful only to those with significant health challenges, but also to any of us who may get so caught up in our busy lives that we lose sight of what is truly important.

She shows us all that living isn’t just about surviving, but it is really about Sur-Thriving.

27 years old. Told you wouldn't even make it to Christmas. Hannah Smith defied all the odds, beat her Oesophageal cancer, and used running to get back to health...even missing 2/3 of her stomach. Inspiring story for all runners and triathletes.

Here are some of the topics we’ll discuss today:

  • What is it like to not know when you’re hungry so that you remember to eat?
  • How absolutely important attitude is in order to live a full life.
  • Who was Hannah’s inspiration?
  • How she managed the emotional cycles of difficult chemo rounds.
  • Her experience with managing self-expectations.
  • How she fends off external negativity.

Questions Hannah is asked:

4:52 How did fitness initially fit into your life?

6:57 What happened?

10:36 How did that make you feel to be diagnosed at such a young age?

14:15 At what point after the diagnosis did you refocus on health and fitness?

15:23 What are some examples of cancer fighting foods you now focus on eating?

16:07 How and when did you approach building fitness back into your life?

19:07 Post-surgery, what are some of the funny things that happened and what do you miss?

24:20 How has your sense of humor helped your state of mind?

27:20 Did people try to coddle you as you worked towards your fitness goals, and if so, how did you handle that?

30:17 How would you advise families of patients regarding getting medical clearance to train?

34:35 To what do you credit your improved running times when you started competing again?

39:53 Have you embraced challenges your whole life or only since your diagnosis?

43:05 Do you live a more fulfilling life because you focus more on things you want to do vs. things you feel purely obligated to do?

46:00 Is there a reason for you that running and triathlons mean so much to you?

49:02 What would you like to say to someone who may be going through a similar situation?

54:01 The Final Kick Round

Quotes by Hannah:

“You can either be bitter and twisted and angry at the situation or you can make the best of whatever time you’ve got left, because at the end of the day, you’re gonna die anyway.”

“I did come, eventually, to the understanding with my family that (my training) wasn’t anything that I wasn’t allowed to do and that my surgeon (had cleared it).”

“I carry a donor card, but I do feel like when I am gone and they cut me open, there’s just going to be an IOU.”

“Ultimately the biggest goal for me is to be as fit and healthy and the best person I can be.”

“Dream big. And if you hit somewhere in the middle, that’ll be alright.”

“Strangely enough, my experience with cancer was probably one of the best experiences of my life. My life is infinitely better after my diagnosis than before, simply because I now look at things and think, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ ”

“Your brain is the only intelligent part of your body. If you give up mentally, what chance does any other part of your body have?”

“You’re stronger than you know.”

“Find what you LOVE to do and build your life around that.”

Take a Listen on Your Next Run

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Mentioned in this podcast:

Do Today Well – Blog

Chrissie Wellington: A Life Without Limits

The Brownlee Brothers – Swim, Bike, Run: Our Triathlon Story

80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald

3 Simple Ways to Determine if You are Running Easy Enough: Matt Fitzgerald

Garmin Fenix

STOP Looking at Your GPS Watch to Run Faster (& enjoy it more too!)

Follow Hannah:

Follow Hannah on Instagram

GutlessIrongirl Website

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