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Kingman's new triathlon to help breast cancer patient

Anna Collins with her husband, Mike, and her sons, Cash and Canton, ages 5 and 3. (Courtesy)

KINGMAN - Anna Shuffler of SHIFT Fitness is always looking for a way to join the benefits of fitness with fundraising in Kingman. She and her friends were looking for a fundraising target for the new Tour of Kingman Triathlon when Shuffler heard about Anna Collins' fight against breast cancer from a friend.

Collins was diagnosed with breast cancer in April shortly after moving to Kingman from Wyoming with her family. The funds raised by the triathlon will help pay for a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

"I found a lump in one of my breasts and thought, 'Well, it's probably just a bump. I'm due for my next well woman exam, I'll just ask the doctor then,'" Collins said.

When she pointed the lump out to her family doctor, the doctor ordered a mammogram. The mammogram turned into an ultrasound, which led to a needle biopsy of the lump. The test came back positive for cancer and Collins found herself facing surgery and six rounds of chemotherapy.

During the surgery, doctors found and removed another lump that turned out to be non-cancerous.

"I didn't know who to turn to for information," she said. "I didn't know anyone with cancer back home. There's no history of cancer in my family and I hadn't really made any close friends here, yet."

Her sole support group, at first, was her husband, Mike, and her two boys, Cash and Canton, ages 5 and 3.

"It was difficult to explain to them (Cash and Canton) at first, but they get it," Collins said. "My husband has been my greatest source of support. There has never been a time when he didn't agree with me on a treatment or changing doctors."

One of the first things that went through her mind when Collins heard that her lump was cancerous was, "I'm going to lose my breasts."

The first words out her husband's mouth were "I'll love you regardless."

"'Regardless of what?' I said. 'If you have to lose your breasts,' he said," Collins said. "I really didn't have to say anything. He just knew what I was thinking. We've always been on the same page with this. I can't image what it must be like to argue with your significant other over something like this."

Collins also reached out to God.

"I've never been a really religious person," she said. "But this has put me in a better relationship with God."

She also suggested that cancer patients surround themselves with knowledge and listen to their bodies as they go through chemo. Be gentle with yourself, she said.

Collins also expanded her support network by talking with the other patients going through chemotherapy.

After voicing dissatisfaction with some of the services provided by Kingman Regional Medical Center, a fellow cancer patient recommended the Las Vegas Comprehensive Cancer Care Center of Nevada.

A doctor there spotted another suspicious lump in her other breast. It was at that time that Collins decided to have both of her breasts removed after chemotherapy and have reconstructive surgery.

"I've already gone through two surgeries," she said. "I've got two rounds of chemotherapy left. I have to get through this. I have two young boys. I'm done."

Collins' network kept expanding until it reached Shuffler and Nicole Burke, who started "Cowgirl Tough, Team Anna." Members wear pink shirts with "Team Anna" on them on the days Collins goes in for chemo.

"She's a cowgirl who grew up in Wyoming," Burke said. "She learned when you fell down, you dust yourself off and get back up. It's so motivating to watch her. She doesn't sit down and feel sorry for herself. There's no time for tears with her. She's got to be a mom."

Shuffler was the one who posed the idea of donating the proceeds from the triathlon to Collins. The triathlon will take place over two days, Oct. 5 and 6, and is partnered with the Lingenfelter Center's Race to Remember, which raises funds to fight Alzheimer's disease.

Athletes have their choice of a full time-trial triathlon, which includes a pool swim at Kingman Regional Medical Center's Del E. Webb Wellness Center Oct. 5, and a one mile, 5 kilometer or 8 kilometer version of the Lingenfelter Center's Race to Remember road race on Oct. 5 and a cycling event starting at the Powerhouse Visitors Center on Oct. 6.

Weekend warriors can also mix and match events or pick one event to compete in.

Entry fees vary depending on what events and what level of difficulty an athlete signs up for. Prices start at $15 for the one-mile version of the Race to Remember and increase to $75 for the full advanced-level triathlon.

However, only the proceeds from the swimming and biking events will go to Collins and other cancer patients in the area. The entry fees from the Race to Remember will go to fight Alzheimer's disease.

Register online at Active.com or pick up a registration form at SHIFT Fitness, 208 N. Fifth St. Registration closes Oct. 4 and packet pickup is at 5 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Lingenfelter Center, 1099 Sunrise Ave. There will also be a $10 per person Mexican dinner at the Lingenfelter Center Oct. 4 with the proceeds going to Collins.

The Kingman community has been wonderful, Collins said. And the thought that Shuffler, Burke and the others would sponsor a triathlon is humbling.

For more information, call (928) 279-2386.


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