Controlling the controllables: My philosophy on cancer prevention

Cecilia Barowski | Published on November 26, 2018

Hello! My name is Cecilia Barowski, and I am a 25-year-old professional runner training for the 2020 Olympics in the 800m, studying for the GRE before applying to a grad program in Speech-Language Pathology, planning a wedding for next August and trying my best to live a healthy and fulfilling life! It can be difficult at times to keep my life’s priorities in order—but I work hard to keep staying active, calming my mind and caring about how I fuel my body high on the list!

My mother passed away from breast cancer on October 28, 2010, and the following year left my mind wallowing in the morbid thought that I, too, would suffer the same fate. It was a cyclical, pessimistic mindset. There’s no way to know for certain what lies ahead… Will I get cancer? Will I make the Olympic team? Which grad program will accept me? Will I ever get all of these Save the Dates addressed and stamped?

It wasn’t until a few years later that my mindset changed drastically after confiding this fear in a friend. She helped me to realize the best thing to do is focus on the things over which I do have control. There’s a simple mantra she shared with me at a track meet in college that continues to remind me of that: “control the controllables.”

Before a race, don’t waste time concerning yourself with who else is toeing the line and how fast she may have run in the past. Don’t stress about the weather and don’t worry over what lane you’ll be assigned. Nothing comes of that but wasted energy!

Instead, take that effort and apply it productively—make the right breakfast choice, complete a proper warm up, avoid distractions before a race.       

This mantra is equally constructive off the track. Rather than succumbing to a grim anticipation of illness, “controling the controllables” has helped reshape my mentality in an optimistic and healthy way. Training properly and eating healthily to become the best runner I can be, working through GRE prep books and practice exams, collecting addresses and setting a schedule for preparing cards—all these things are within my control and will help me to achieve my goals!

Through the AthleteBiz annual giving campaign, “Athletes For,” I am fundraising for the Prevent Cancer Foundation®. The Foundation’s message of spreading awareness about how to Stop Cancer Before It Starts!® really resonated with me, and I am so fortunate to be able to help share their mission with the running community. 

You can read more about my campaign and donate here.

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