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Dawn's Story


We all have our reason why we take on a challenge like the SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 Busselton and we are told that when the going gets tough and you feel like quitting, we need to remember our WHY.And Dawn Gleeson has a great and inspiring reason why.

Dawn is a two time breast cancer patient/survivor and she is taking on Busso 2018 because she can, when there are so many breast cancer patients who can’t, or won’t, ever get the chance. She is taking on Busso 2018 to teach her two children the definition of resilience, that when you are faced with big hurdles in life you CAN get through it and you can be better then you were before. She is taking on Busso 2018 to prove to herself that her physical and mental toughness is stronger than cancer ever will be. And she is taking on Busso 2018 to help raise awareness about breast cancer and organisations like Breast Cancer Care WA that provide local practical support to breast cancer patients.

Dawn’s first diagnosis happened in 2011 when she found a small, pea sized lump in her breast during a self-examination. If not for the persistence of her husband to go and get it checked and the thoroughness of her doctor, the outcome could have been very different. Dawn had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery and for 6 years was in the clear.

During that time Dawn and her family moved to Perth, where she met Mel and James Taylor, who just happened to be a part of North Coast Triathlon Club. Mel and Dawn, under the direction of "Coach" James, started doing triathlons together. Like many of us, they started out with the enticer distance and worked their way up towards the longer distances, where at Mullaloo Triathlon last April, Dawn and Mel completed their first standard distance race.

The thrill of that achievement had not even began to wane when, just 4 days later, after a routine check-up with her plastic surgeon, Dawn was told the cancer had returned. A small tumour was found on a small part of remaining breast tissue, called the breast tail and her life changed again. Two surgeries later, the doctors had removed the tumour and also found 5 cancerous lymph nodes that were under her implant. This was followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatment that finished in December last year.

During her treatment, with the support and encouragement of her family and the help of James and Mel and their home gym, Dawn was determined to stay as fit and active as possible. When she couldn’t run she walked, when she couldn’t swim or ride her bike, she lifted weights. And whilst Dawn was frustrated with the physical effects treatment had, exercise helped lift her spirits, kept her strong and helped with her mental wellbeing.

Throughout treatment, James suggested that maybe Dawn should aim to do the SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 Busselton in May. It was an opportunity to prove to herself that she could get back to where she was before, even better, and after some cajoling, she and Mel agreed. She took December off to recover from treatment and started training in earnest in January.

Dawn has been overwhelmed by the support she has received from the triathlon community, not just during her treatment but from her first enticer through to now and on her journey to IRONMAN 70.3. Not just the amazing friendships she has made but companies like Malaga Cycles, The Running Centre, Scody, Runwest, Infinit Nutrition and Swimmers World that are supporting her achieve her goal. Dawn is now well on the way to being on the starting line in May. It will see her come full circle, from triathlete to breast cancer patient, to survivor to long course triathlete.

So when the alarm clock reads 4 something am and your legs feel like lead and the last thing you want to do is pound the pavement in the dark, remember your WHY. And if you need more motivation, remember Dawn’s.

If you would like to support Dawn’s chosen charity, Breast Cancer Care WA, go to http://www.breastcancer.org.au/