Girls On The Run Dayton Let’s Tell Her Luncheon


Posted May 20, 2019

Girls On The Run Dayton Let’s Tell Her Luncheon

We had the pleasure of hearing Nickie Luse, Up and Running staff member, share her message at the annual Girls on the Run Dayton luncheon.  We hope you enjoy her message below as much as we do.  

Last week I had the honor to speak at the 2nd annual Girls on the Run Dayton luncheon, an organization that I have been lucky to watch evolve from the very beginning. The entire experience from working with the Girls on the Run Dayton board members to meeting the other talented & inspiring women speakers to building my speech was a one of a kind experience. Sharing my own very personal journey & Let’s Tell Her message in front of a crowd of 250+ proved to be more inspiring than it was intimidating.

Below I share my Let’s Tell Her message with all of you in hopes that by sharing my voice it encourages you to use yours; therefore providing examples so young girls know how to use theirs too.

I’ve been contemplating my message to her…to all of you…and to myself now for the better part of 5 months since I was asked to be a guest speaker. I thought what in the world is the message I have to offer…I’m a 39 year old female that quit her career, exercises for a profession making pennies compared to other professional athletes, has never owned a house and has been known to galivant around traveling the world and oh wait also has a completely flat chest with one heck of a scar…hmm this a great message to share with aspiring women of all ages.  Wow this is going to go over real well Nickie…hmm I wonder if they checked my bio before asking me to speak. 

Pedal back with me into my past, the early 1980’s.  Yes, I was a free spirited short haired tomboy…a girl that played outside all day, ripped it up on a bright pink skate board, wore high top converse, collected baseball cards, built forts and kept up with the boys in the neighborhood.  I did however have pierced earrings, showing a bit of my feminine side.  I vividly remember one item that is part of my earliest childhood memories, a soccer ball.  I juggled for hours on end in the yard and sometimes even in the house (well that is until I would almost break something).  I was never asked to stop, I was just asked to take breaks for family meals, school work, bedtime, etc.  In our household this was normal activity…I was practicing…I was dreaming…I was focused, and I had a passion.  My personality and my behavior were encouraged and embraced by those around me. Lucky for me as this became the vehicle to much of my life success thus far.  I was encouraged to work hard at an early age and to be myself.  You can try anything Nickie; but once you start something you must see it to completion.  I never stopped juggling…I wanted to be the best…I wanted to be a college soccer player…I wanted to be a professional athlete.  

 Let’s tell her it’s awesome to be unique and chase her own crazy dreams. 

I juggled my way to the University of Cincinnati on a soccer scholarship and graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  Upon graduation my desire to help others, see the world and chase adventure led me to hang up my cleats and pursue my career as an intensive care and traveling nurse.    

Many unknown cities, roommates, hospitals and cross-country road trips later I made my way back to Dayton, OH for a break.  Well 12 years later here I stand today having re-acquainted myself with my roots of Dayton, OH.  You won’t find me in a hospital these days; but may spot me at Up and Running in Dayton touching smelly bare feet or coaching aka running & discussing favorite ice cream flavors with my high school alma mater women’s cross-country team. The other 30 hours a week you will find me swimming, biking, running, lifting and definitely napping & spending my pay check at the  grocery while pursing my professional triathlon career. On a 30 hour training week I could out eat any 16 year old boy. Is that a stable career? Does that pay better than nursing?  Do you have health care, how about a retirement plan?  Let me tell you, I’d be a millionaire for every eye brow raise I have received when fielding questions about my careers.

Let’s tell her choosing the hilly bike ride will take more mite but the view is a jaw dropper.  Let’s tell her to dig deep and find the courage to follow her passions through work and therefore her happiness will make a big impact in this world.  

In 2013 my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer.  She gracefully and valiantly lived life in the biggest way for 22 months.  My mom and others may have seen her bald head and thin fatigued frame during her cancer journey.  I saw the captivating glimmer and love spoken through her big brown eyes and I saw her contagious beautiful smile more than I had my entire 33 years.  My mom’s last gift to me was her never give up, loving and positive spirit that you can choose to have in the face of adversity.   Three years after my mom passed away, at the age of 38 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  It was genetically un-related, just a big ole random coincidence. As I made the decision to have a double mastectomy with no reconstruction, I would prepare myself to see scars in the mirror for the rest of my life.  It was my personal decision; I didn’t want something fake in me, I just wanted the bad stuff out and my healthy body back.  I was the lucky one, after surgery I would be considered cancer free and cured.  I worried a bit and wondered how I would look back in my swim suit, triathlon kit and certain outfits.  One day post op, my sister Megan was helping me take the massive amount of bandages off…are you ready to look she asked.  Might as well.  She looked at me, what do you think?  Hmm, not so bad.  I asked her…She had a big smile, I think you look like a bad ass.  It all came full circle in that moment, she didn’t see my scars, just like I didn’t see my mom’s bald head, she saw strength. 

Let’s tell her, your inner beauty is your strength.  

Last winter I was asked if I had been afraid that I was going to die. It completely caught me off guard and left me perplexed.  I quietly contemplated my answer for a few seconds figuring I needed an eloquent answer. I responded with no…then repeated no…and ended my answer with no I never thought of that as an option.

Let’s tell her to pedal through life with conviction & positivity…because if she does…she won’t see an alternative.  

As I read my own words, I realize it sounds like all I do is hammer through life never letting off the pedal and that may have once been slightly true. That changed one February morning for me.  I was the newest member of the cancer club, it was snowing outside and I was supposed to be in Hawaii…wow joke was on me.  I needed something, I didn’t know what that something was.  So I loaded my bike and left the house. The snow was glistening, the wind was gentle, my breath ever so deep. I couldn’t see where the snow-covered path was leading nor could I clearly converse…it didn’t matter because my company was perfectly content with the solitude and time stood still. Since cancer scared the crap out of me I realized I hadn’t taken a deep breath in nine days.  I was just starting my race against cancer; I realized to win I had to rest, find peace in the quietness and put myself first.  I coined the term my deep breath hour…it came to fruition that snowy day. 

Let’s tell her it’s important to carve out moments every single day to recharge, it is cleansing and a game changer to winning.

Lets tell her to hold on tight and enjoy the wild ride whether it be in bike shorts or a dress.  You get to choose your own bike path…may you pedal with grace, positivity, conviction and a smile.  You are in charge of your own pedal stroke, make it count.  Be proud of your passions and your talents and share it with the world.  Your inner strength is truly your beauty.  Life is precious and life is short….love what you do, for you will find freedom and happiness and that is what life is all about.  

Remember it can simply start with juggling a soccer ball and teaching her to never give up. I am living proof…I am a 39 year old, 1 year breast cancer survivor competing at a higher level than when I left off and this is just my beginning.  So let’s tell her to pedal forward.

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