Alaska skier Kikkan Randall reveals breast cancer diagnosis

Kikkan Randall announced her breast cancer diagnosis just months after winning an Olympic gold medal. (Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska skier and Olympic gold medalist Kikkan Randall has cancer. Randall made the announcement on Instagram Wednesday morning.

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“The color pink has taken on a new chapter in my life,” Randall said in her post on social media. Known for her pink-streaked hair, the skier said she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

The 35-year-old from Anchorage had just moved to Penticton, B.C. with her husband Jeff and two-year-old son Breck when she noticed a lump in her breast.

“It was actually Mother’s Day,” Randall said. “We were just starting to get a break after the wave of gold medal stuff and moving and all that. Breck and Jeff and I had a great day out exploring.”

It was the end of the day and Randall was getting ready for bed.

“I just happened to brush past my breast and noticed something felt different. It felt kind of like a pea or a marble,” Randall said.

Randall got a mammogram, then an ultrasound, and finally a biopsy. She says she was shocked with the results.

“All the signs they tell you that prevent breast cancer– exercise, nutrition, no smoking– I checked all those off,” Randall said. “And I have no family history, so this really just came as an absolute surprise.”

Randall wasn’t insured yet in Canada, so she started talking to doctors back in Anchorage, where her parents still live.

Randall found a good team at Providence Medical Center and started treatment on Monday. She will have five more rounds between now and November. When the chemo is finished she’ll have a break and then surgery.

Meanwhile, Randall said she’s focused on what’s right in front of her — the support of her friends and family, her community in Anchorage, and her fans around the world. She’s working with an organization called AKTIV Against Cancer, which was started by Norwegian Olympic marathoner Grete Waitz.

“This is so overwhelming,” Randall explained. “You almost stop in your tracks and you stop doing all the things you normally do, yet your body needs those things that you always do so I’m going to try to keep activity at the forefront here and also hope to be a good advocate for [AKTIV Against Cancer].”

Randall had already been involved with the organization for five years now, so she says she’ll put the energy she has into promoting a healthy lifestyle for cancer survivors.

Randall biked to her first round of chemo on Monday and plans to stay active in the months to come.

The color pink has taken on a new chapter in my life as I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Although we caught it early and the prognosis is good, my life will change quite a bit in the coming months. I have returned to Anchorage for treatment at @providencealaska Cancer Center. It’s a scary thing to learn you have cancer and I have wondered every day since how this could have possibly happened to me. But I have promised myself that I will remain positive and active and determined throughout my treatment. I am going to bring as much tenacity, strength, and energy toward this challenge as I have throughout my entire career. I began my first round of chemo on Monday surrounded by great friends and family. I made to sure get a gym workout in beforehand, rode my bike to and from the hospital, and wore my happy shoes. I will be using my blog to keep everyone posted through my upcoming journey. #Kikkanimal @llbean @aktivmotkreft @aktiv_usa photos by @charlesrenfroski

A post shared by Kikkan Randall (@kikkanimal) on

Emily Russell is the voice of Alaska morning news as Alaska Public Media’s Morning News Host and Producer.

Originally from the Adirondacks in upstate New York, Emily moved to Alaska in 2012. She skied her way through three winters in Fairbanks, earning her Master’s degree in Northern Studies from UAF.

Emily’s career in radio started in Nome in 2015, reporting for KNOM on everything from subsistence whale harvests to housing shortages in Native villages. She then worked for KCAW in Sitka, finally seeing what all the fuss with Southeast, Alaska was all about.

Back on the road system, Emily is looking forward to driving her Subaru around the region to hike, hunt, fish and pick as many berries as possible. When she’s not talking into the mic in the morning, Emily can be found reporting from the peaks above Anchorage to the rivers around Southcentral.

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