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‘Whatever gets you out there moving, do it’: Breast cancer survivor thriving through cycling

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 4:58 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:02 AM EDT
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MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WWBT) - Donna Suro is a certified cycling coach and business owner of Cyclebar. Suro opened her first location back in 2016 and this week she is celebrating the opening of a second operation in Midlothian, but nearly five years ago, a life-altering diagnosis nearly pumped the breaks on her cycling studio.

“We signed a lease for that in August of 2016, but a month later I was diagnosed with breast cancer which was a complete shock because it does not run in my family,” Suro said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to have the energy that it would take to run a business.”

Suro says she went through the all too familiar transformation of hair loss, surgeries, and the added stress breast cancer put on her family.

“There was one time I got very sick after one of my rounds of chemo and I actually ended up in the hospital and I was actually contemplating pushing back the rest of my treatment,” Suro said. “Just walking to the mailbox or walking around the block felt like I was running a marathon.”

But despite the worst of her treatment, Suro never turned away from adversity and never let her foot off the pedal.

“You have to allow yourself to feel a little uncomfortable because the change comes through those uncomfortable moments,” Suro said. “In our lives, I think today it’s very rare that we can be fully in control.”

After months of treatment, Suro says she steadily worked herself back up to health as the Short Pump location Cyclebar Greengate opened.

“We were lucky because it was about a year out for our build so the timing worked quite well,” Suro said. “I was able to have multiple surgeries, I did go through chemotherapy and I finished my treatment in March of 2017, and then we opened in May of 2017.”

Suro says she found inspiration from the testimonials she heard from other cancer survivors over social media.

“I thought, ‘How am I going to self-fitness, how am I going to sell health when I’m coming in and I’m looking pale and bald?’ Yet it’s been quite a magical story,” Suro said. “I was doing a little bit at a time, I couldn’t do what they were coaching, but I was doing a little bit more every class, that was in May of 2017 and by October I was certified as a coach.”

Suro says she’s now been able to regain control of her life through cycling and has been able to make her business grow as a result. Last week she celebrated the opening of a Cyclebar location in Midlothian in addition to celebrating another milestone of remission.

“November will be five years, five years!” Suro said. “Having this right around the corner really helped to just fuel me to keep going.”

Suro hopes that women and men who may be going through breast cancer or any challenge in life can look to her for inspiration as others have done for her.

“I love for people to move, whatever gets you out there moving do it, for me, cycling is the thing,” Suro said. “You get in that room you get on your bike you have your station, you are totally in control for that amount of time that you’re in that room of what happens and that’s powerful.”

With October being breast cancer awareness month, Suro hopes her story will encourage more women and men to stay on top of their screenings.

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