Dory Sellers Gaston, D.D.S., is not letting cancer slow her down. For the 39-year-old mother of two and full-time dentist at Grove Park Dental Group, working out is her happy place; athleticism is her identity.
Since losing her mother to breast cancer at just 17 years old, Dory has been dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle by prioritizing wellness, consistent exercise, and a positive attitude.
Between sessions at OrangeTheory, HotYogPlus, GetFitWithBeth HIIT classes, running marathons, and other pastimes like cycling, tennis, and Peloton, it’s rare to find Dory not moving.
“I can manage all stress with exercise. It’s my self-therapy.”
Being part of a women’s running group, Dory committed to running at least one mile outside every day last year and more recently tacked on a monthly 13-miler as well.
It was during this time that Dory got in the best shape of her life, completing her first triathlon, an IronMan 70.3, and also getting a half-marathon PR with St. Jude’s in the same year.
The following spring, and one month after signing up to run the Chicago Marathon with the American Cancer Society, Dory noticed an odd lump in her right breast and decided to get it checked out. She was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and prescribed 16 rounds of chemotherapy.
“In the back of my mind, I said, ‘Well, I’ll still train just in case I feel like doing it,’” and got cleared to participate. During one of her appointments at Baptist Hospital, Oncologist Phil Lammers asked if she was training for something.
“I told him I was hoping to be able to run the Chicago marathon. He told me that if I feel up for it, go for it.”
And that’s just what she did. Dory, together with running friends Erin Arbogast and Blaire Bobo, ran the Chicago Marathon just one month ago.
“I usually do my chemotherapy on Tuesday afternoons after my lunch break. I make sure to get my long runs in the morning of chemo and the day after.” She’s never missed a day of work or altered her workout schedule since her diagnosis.
“I’ve tried as much as possible to keep my life the same. If I let the cancer take over, it would consume me.”
“No matter how bad I feel, I make a point to get up and exercise. I don’t really let it impact my mental health.”
Dory focuses on hydrating and eating balanced meals with adequate protein to offset any muscle mass reduction from chemotherapy.
“Most people don’t even know I have cancer because I’m so active,” she shares of her intense strength training, running, and exercise regimen.
Dory is grateful for her huge support system of fellow runners and is thankful to have retained her hair through cold capping. With just one round of chemotherapy left, Dory plans to run the St. Jude’s Marathon again this December and is scheduled for surgery on December 8.
“You need to be as positive as possible. That’s how you get through.”
Follow her journey on Instagram: @dorysellersgaston.
By Shlomit Ovadia
Photo by Tindall Stephens