Steamboat’s Jan Theadore stayed active through the toughest of times and helps others do the same
Jan Theadore is moving through time at a different rate than the rest of us.
She doesn’t feel her age, which she doesn’t even want to share.
“I’m between zero and 100,” she said. “Too many people identify you with your age. It doesn’t really identify me. … I feel like they got it wrong.”
She thinks her feeling of youth has been extended because of how active she is, playing tennis every day, skiing more than 100 days in recent winters and enjoying pilates.
Activity is more than an anti-aging serum. It has helped Theadore through some of the toughest times of her life, including the loss of her husband and a battle with breast cancer.
Her diagnosis and ensuing surgeries kept her off the court for a year, but she got back as soon as she could. Now, she convinces others to have a similar attitude, including a friend she plays with every Friday.
“I got her back on the court. So many people, because of the lymph node involvement and the arm involvement, some people don’t feel like they can play tennis again,” Theadore said. “Another breast cancer survivor is in my Wednesday group. She was going to give up because you do, you feel like you don’t have the strength, the stamina to keep going.”
Theadore said it’s just like getting back on a horse in the way the longer one waits, the more intimidating the horse seems to be.
“Life should be lived. It’s for the living,” she said. “I had to really remind myself of that after breast cancer. I almost didn’t make it. I had a very aggressive form of breast cancer.”
Theadore was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. The cancer, just the size of a pinhead, was spotted early, but Theadore was advised to wait six months before seeing how much it had changed. Unfortunately, the mass had tripled in size and the cancer was spreading.
She underwent three surgeries, including a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery, which resulted in Theadore suffering from longer term blood clot issues.
Her bad experiences through the diagnosis and battle led to her to be a strong advocate for early detection and action.
“If it’s even the size of a pinhead, get to a breast cancer surgeon. You don’t know how aggressive it’s going to be. In my case, I was lucky to live through it,” she said. “Through all of that, my goal was to get back to what I do, which is live life. So for me, to encourage people to keep living is huge after any tragedy be it cancer, be it death. If you give up. Your life is over. The cancer may well have gotten you.”
Theadore learned how to “live life large” from her husband Ross. They did everything together, from skiing to tennis to pilates. But, when Ross died on court six at the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center in 2015, Jan found it difficult to return to the center. However, she knew she had to take her own advice and get back on the court.
She also took to skiing, logging 100 days on the slopes the following winter at the inaccurate age of 72.
“Sport gives you confidence. It builds self-esteem and it gives you a sense of self-worth,” Theadore said.
For that reason, she thinks it’s crucial for not only cancer survivors, but everyone to stay active.
Theadore takes her belief to the next level, volunteering to teach children life skills as part of the SERVES program while serving as the president of the Steamboat Tennis Association. She’s seen the sport and her classes help the underserved youth find a safe place and learn to trust and feel seen as a part of the community.
She’s also shown them a thing or two about resiliency, returning to the court astonishingly fast after breaking her wrist last year.
“It’d be awful if I didn’t come back. It would be such a statement to them that wow, ‘she’s not a fighter.’ You do have to be a fighter with breast cancer or any other kind of cancer.”
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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