Theresa Oles runs for her life every day. This fall, the nurse anesthesist who goes running to unwind, is pounding the pavement to fight breast cancer in the Chicago Breast Cancer Network of Strength marathon. "My mother is a breast cancer survivor, and so is my aunt, and I wanted to combine my love of running with giving back," said Oles, who raised almost $2,000 through her participation. The 32-year-old Chicago woman participates in three to four surgeries per day as a certified registered nurse anesthesist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System. "Surgery is very stressful and you need to be focused on what you're doing. Running clears my head and helps prepare me to focus clearly on the day ahead," said Oles, who waits for the doors to open at the Gottlieb Center for Fitness at 5:30 a.m. "I run the treadmill for about an hour, then shower and dress for work. I walk the hallway to the hospital operating room and feel ready for anything." News five years ago of her mother's breast cancer threw Oles into "professional nurse" mode. "My mother told me that her doctor's office called, and, rather than just sending a clean bill of health through the mail as happened in years' past, they wanted her to come in," Oles said. "I immediately knew that something was wrong and told her that my dad or I would be accompanying her to Loyola - she would not go alone as she was planning." "My mom's family has a history of breast cancer, and my mom's older sister had breast cancer. My mom gets a mammogram faithfully every year, so this was discovered early," Oles said.
Oles feels running helps protect her own health and is thrilled that her running is also helping to safeguard the health of others through the fund-raising campaign. "My mom and my aunt were really excited that their journey had inspired me to represent them at the race and they were my biggest fans," she said. She made a flier and shared it with colleagues at Loyola Gottlieb. "Everyone was very generous in supporting me," she said. "I purposely chose to work at Gottlieb because it is a community hospital, and people here are very close and friendly." The nurse will continue to run long-distance races, and has a goal of entering - and completing - the Boston marathon. "My mother and aunt are battling breast cancer and winning; my challenge of running the Boston marathon is nothing in comparison," she said.